So, by now I'm sure everyone (except maybe my mom) has heard about the ALS Challenge, and probably been tapped to do it by a friend or two. Of course, the time came and I couldn't feign societal outcast any longer. But, I had to look into it further to decide whether I was one of the many skeptics out there, or if it was really important enough to do. You can search the internet and find a slew of people who argue for either side, and I was just slightly to one side before being forced to consider doing it.
Watching my friends post videos stating, in essence, who tagged them and the three individuals they'd be torturing back, followed by a dump of icy cold (sometimes not so much) water over their heads, had me kind of shaking my own head. My issues were thus:
a) Is it really raising awareness if no one even says WTF ALS even IS?
b) How much is it helping the cause if the point is to take part in a viral campaign that's about AVOIDING paying to help research/treatment efforts?
It seemed to be a popularity thing. A fad. A chance to lightheartedly piss off one's friends. The point of the thing was moot.
BUT...then I got tagged by my brother-in-law. He's a guy who, while we joke our butts off together quite a bit, I respect. A lot. Not only would I be tortured for NOT doing it, I respected him too much not to at least consider it.
So, I decided to do it a tad differently. Just a bit.
I researched. Of course, the internet is such that, these days, you can find a million "valid" explanations on how to do something "the right way." Yeah, no. Since this wasn't an organization-based campaign to begin with, there was really no accurate way. Some said that the point was to raise money even if you dump the ice water, just in smaller denominations ($10 or $20, depending on what you read). No matter what, if you didn't do it, you had to spend $100.
All of this left a yucky taste in my mouth. Many of my friends and family are budget-conscious folks. A good cause is great, but dipping into the grocery funds ain't. Forcing someone to give $100 or $50 or even $20 if they have a family to support just isn't the way to get help. I much prefer saying, "give what you can, if you can."
And saying "no" just makes you a hardass; not a team player. Y'know, the kids who got made fun of in school. Neither's the best situation.
So, I did this:
Notes: I enjoy talking to folks, really, but when my nerves get up, my lisp gets a-goin'. And "ums" get used generously. And, um, degenerative. Yes. I know.
But, more importantly, I'm trying to bring some awareness to the thing. Aside from stating the definition of ALS (poorly, but still) and the official website for donations (is anyone else waiting for some fake ALS sites to pop up and start making a false profit on this thing??), I make it clear that I am ALSO making a donation, and invite anyone to do so, as well. The ice water was really just for fun, to avoid familial harassment, and to prove that I'm a tough broad.
A couple of facts that I had hoped to state, but I knew I'd ramble and the thing would be wicked long:
There are over 30,000 individuals in America alone living with ALS. Once receiving a diagnosis, the life expectancy is 5-6 years, tops. There is only one medication to treat ALS, and it only extends one's life by mere months. There. Is. No. Cure. Oh, and this disease doesn't discriminate; young, old, white, black, fit, unhealthy. It's not genetically passed. It's like winning some horrific lottery. "Hey, ya never know."
I kid you not. Check out alsa.org for more sad but true information.
Oh, and to learn more about Lou Gehrig, I greatly suggest watching "The Pride of the Yankees". Sure, there are tons of great books out there, but there's nothing like watching Gary Cooper portray the real man, being brought down by this crippling disease in his prime. It's heart-breaking and true.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming... Oh, and do tell me what you think of the challenge in the comments! Did you take part? Are you hoping to? Do you think it's a superficial masking of truer fundraising efforts? Let's chat!