Small Beginnings: Get your ice bucket ready for a very worthy cause

Lisa Schappell

The world is not without worthwhile opportunities to be charitable is it? Every day we see commercials and receive solicitations in our mail box for various noble causes, all seeking donations to promote their cause or fund a cure. Sometimes we can roll our eyes and become desensitized to the next bandwagon that comes by because we have been hit up so many times for some many causes. That’s how the “Ice Bucket Challenge” frenzy sweeping the Facebook world kind of left me feeling, at least in the beginning.

You see, I really had no idea what it was all about in the beginning. I thought it was a bunch of crazy college students with too much time on their hands double-daring each other to be crazier than the last guy. But one of the reason these things work so well, is they manage to bring the story out and everyone gets talking about what maybe a month or two ago was a seldom discussed topic. So it goes with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

What is ALS anyway? The initials stand for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and the disease is also often called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” after the great baseball player from the 1930’s who brought the disease into the public eye when it ended his stellar career. ALS is a degenerative disease that destroys the ability for the brain to give and receive orders to muscles throughout the body. People who suffer from ALS gradually lose motor skills and critical basic body functions until eventually the disease kills them. The process is often fast and brutal. Patients are typically given a prognosis of two to five years to live after diagnosis.

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The ALS foundation tells us that approximately thirty thousand Americans suffer from this disease which currently has only one FDA approved drug to treat its symptoms. Oddly enough, I have personally discovered four people in my extended circle of friends who are battling ALS. A month ago, I was only aware of two of these. I credit this heightened awareness to this ice bucket phenomenon sweeping the nation. In spite of my original confusion and ambivalence to the gimmick of the challenge, it is impressive to know that in the short time span of two weeks, the ALS foundation has received more than four million dollars in donations which is a four hundred percent increase from last year in that same time frame! In addition, they have identified more than seventy thousand new supporters and the ALS story is being told all across this nation.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has arrived in Hamburg, in case you didn’t know! This past week, our pastoral staff at my church all received a nomination and accepted the challenge as a team. In a creative plan, they filled the bucket of a front end loader with water and added fifteen bags of ice before being plastered poolside in public for this great cause. I know some of you still think it’s goofy and are shaking your head saying “I just don’t get it!” And that’s ok. It’s certainly not for everyone. But for those who are watching a loved one suffer slowly toward an inevitable fate, these silly dumpings and dunkings are stirring up hope for a cure.

The other interesting thing about the Ice Bucket Challenge from this week is that I got nominated! So I am steeling myself up for the shock of the water and making my list of who needs a nomination. Be prepared, because you just never know who is going to pop into my mind. Keep a watch on Facebook and one of these days I will be a teeth-chattering soggy mess for a good cause. For Scott. For Carol. For Steve. For Lillian. I will accept the challenge.