Why You Should Do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge - Anthony Quintano (

“Don’t go along with the crowd.” I’ve heard the phrase often. “Everyone’s doing it, but does that mean you should?” We were raised to be independent, and we were encouraged to to think outside the box. So, when I saw “Don’t do it because everyone else is” pop up on my news feed, I wondered what harmful trend people were buying into now. This was my first glimpse of the ubiquitous ice bucket challenge.

Conformity might have been “in” during the fifties, but now it’s cool to be different and unique. This is why there are so many hipsters. It’s time to defy the trend to defy trends. You see, doing something just because the crowd isn’t doing it is just as bad as following the crowd. Both are born out of reaction. The idea of thinking independently is not to be different for the sake of being different. Rather, it’s to only do things you believe are worth doing regardless of other people’s opinions.

Sometimes, doing the right thing means being different from everyone else, but sometimes, in rare and beautiful moments, it means being just like everybody else. The ALS ice bucket challenge happens to be the latter.

My introduction to the ALS ice bucket challenge was only one of many complaints about this new fundraising campaign. The most significant problem with the challenge is that the ALS foundation uses embryonic stem cell research, leading many to protest on the
basis of morality. To quote pope John Paul II, “Any treatment which claims to save human lives, yet is based upon the destruction of human life in its embryonic state, is logically and morally contradictory, as is any production of human embryos for the direct or indirect purpose of experimentation or eventual destruction.” Killing one person to help save another is not okay.

However, this does not mean that research to cure ALS should not be supported. Fortunately, there are other organizations which are researching cures for ALS in more ethical ways. Some organizations which you may consider supporting:

-ALS Foundation for Life
-JPII Medical Research Institute
-Team Gleason

I would encourage you to donate to one of these organizations and promote it on your facebook page.

Other people oppose the challenge saying we shouldn’t be wasting water. After all, there are children in other parts of the world who are dying because they don’t have water, and here we are wasting buckets full. This reminds me of parents telling their children to eat their food because kids are starving in China.

I’m sorry people are suffering, they’re welcome to my food, or in this case my ice water. If I could hand that bucket of water to someone who needed it, I would certainly not be pouring it over my head. However, seeing that the alternative to doing the ice bucket challenge is not poor children getting a drink, there’s no reason not to go ahead and do it. There’s no practical benefit to saving your bucket of water. If you’re worried about a water shortage in your area, take a 30 second shorter shower or skip watering the grass for a day.

Other people complained about the narcissistic nature of the challenge. People on Facebook, however, have a great platform from which to reach people. Take a break from the selfies and use the attention for a good purpose. The belief that each of us as individuals can make a difference is not narcissistic. It is realistic.

After all, individuals passing on the challenge have already raised over 100 million dollars for ALS research! So much good is being done, why complain that people aren’t doing more? Through the ice bucket challenge, people are doing more for the cause than they would be otherwise and are actually accomplishing something good. Far from meaningless, the challenge has given hope to families living daily life under the burden of ALS.

ALS disease is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease because he was one of the first famous people to be affected by it. People know it by his name because as humans we associate things with other people. That’s why it’s so effective when celebrities join causes. We connect the face to the cause. When each of us puts up a video doing the challenge, whether it’s for our own narcissistic purposes or out of compassion, we put our face on ALS. So go ahead, call attention to yourself and together lets bring this terrible disease to the front of the public consciousness.

Yet, many who are not concerned by ethics and water shortages still aren’t ready to jump on board. One high schooler asks with the typical incredulity of our generation, “What’s the point? We do random things, like pouring water on our head, to raise awareness for more random things, such as a disease most of us have never heard of before, and now we’re aware. So what? Stop jumping on the bandwagon.”

But is ALS random? And is it possible that our awareness makes a difference? Just because there are lots of terrible things in the world that we could be working towards other than ALS, should we be overwhelmed into immobility? The high schooler says we shouldn’t raise awareness for this disease because there are so many other things we could be raising awareness for. Yet what’s the alternative? Do nothing?

As far as effectiveness, most people didn’t even know what ALS was. It was underfunded and and under researched, a fatal disease which in a short matter of years turns the patient’s body into a living tomb. It’s easier for us to forget. Now, people can’t help but see it all over the internet, and anyone with the slightest sense of curiosity is sure to have googled it.

Due to the ice bucket challenge, many more people suddenly know what ALS is. This year, in 30 days, funding for ALS research has skyrocketed by 3,500 percent from what was donated all last year. An impressive campaign, this money funds research to help cure a currently incurable disease.

This is tangible hope for sufferers who had no hope. So yes, people across the world pouring buckets of water on their heads might seem unsophisticated or ridiculous, but to say it hasn’t made a difference is just not true. It has brought hope to those suffering and money to find a cure.

Many of the complaints I’ve seen about the ALS challenge come from people tired of their flooded newsfeeds. Instead of complaining, you see your newsfeed as a constant reminder of how incredibly successful this campaign has been. Maybe now it will remind you how much good is being done. Instead of bringing frustration, it can brighten your morning.

At the end of the day, all these concerns that have been brought to my attention don’t stand against the tremendous good the ALS ice bucket challenge has done. Raising awareness has been incredibly successful. It’s easier not to talk about terrible and deadly diseases, diseases we can’t cure. But we need to hear about them.

Maybe none of us are doing anything much individually. Maybe we only listen and continue on with our day. But the number of people spending just 15 minutes to sympathize with someone else’s pain does, and has, made a difference.

True, it fills our Facebook feeds, but is that really such a big sacrifice? I’m sure our Facebook feeds will go back to memes and cat videos soon enough. Let ALS take center stage, it will only be for a couple weeks after all.


This is a guest contribution from Anna Macdonald. Guest submissions do not necessarily reflect the views of Thinkers Incorporated, nor do the guest contributors necessarily hold the views found on our website. Anna is a junior at the University of Dallas, studying pre-law and political philosophy. When not reading or writing, Anna enjoys music, playing sports and trying new things. She loves to travel and takes every possible opportunity to do so. She is passionate about discovering the truth and fascinated by philosophy, culture, and cross cultural perspectives. 

Discussion — One Response

  • Lisa Magret November 15, 2015 on 9:38 am

    I am posting this comment for those who have ALS and need cure, This is my story, i was a victim of ALS, i lived with this virus for 4 years without a cure, all my hope was lost, i thought i would die soon, i searched for help but all was in vein but i never stopped searching, but by miracle i came mistakenly came across a spell caster named Dr ISAAC so i contacted him for a try, gush, i did not believed what happened, he cured me just in 1 week, the virus left my body, i was normal again like before, i am so shot of words, i am the happiest person so ever, i cant believe i could be healed again. please do not ignore to contact him if you have the same problem as mine, he help you come to life again, you can also email him at I’m so grateful for healing me, I will always be grateful. or