From the Item editor: Taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Editor Shea Singley takes part in the Strike Out ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Berks-Mont Newspapers Photo
Editor Shea Singley takes part in the Strike Out ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Berks-Mont Newspapers Photo

We’ve seen it just about everywhere. On the various social media sites and on television when it comes to celebrities. We’ve seen the positive reactions and of course the negative reactions. Some may even be sick of hearing about it even if they do believe that helping out the cause is a good thing. I’m talking about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that has taken off recently.

As a baseball fan, I have known the bare bones of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis due to Lou Gehrig. The progressive neurodegenerative disease, as described by the ALS Association, affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The degeneration of the motor neurons eventually leads to the death of those affected by this terrible disease. Any time that I hear about ALS, I start hearing Lou Gehrig’s famous speech.

Other than the few moments that I hear Lou Gehrig in conversation, ALS is not on my mind. That is not because I do not believe that it is a terrible disease that a cure must be found for, but more so because it is not something that is in my every day life. This challenge has forced people to be confronted in some way about ALS on almost a daily basis.

It can be difficult to be an activist and support causes in the way our society is with social media today. People can simply put a hashtag on a social media post, on Facebook or Twitter for example, and feel like they did their part. This has become a trend in many of the social and political issues in the world lately that has received much criticism and often is called “lazy activism.” That is one of the complaints people seem to have about the Strike Out ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Even more so when many of the terms have become pour a bucket of ice water on yourself (or with the help of a friend) or donate $100 in either a 24 hour period or 48 depending on who nominates you. From what I have heard, it started out with donate $10 and pour ice water on yourself or donate the full $100 to ALS Association.

Now it almost seems like pouring the water on yourself is a way to get out of donating any money at all. It does not help that just about everyone started doing it and people who criticize it point out that those who participate are doing it to be “in.” Also, it has been pointed out by many that though a large amount has been raised, people will not donate again unless they have before or have a personal attachment to the cause.

My question that I pose to those negative comments, does it matter when or why the money is donated? Yes the same amount might not come in next year, but it’s there now. I count that as a win. As someone who regularly donates to causes that are very close to my heart, and others when I can or see an immediate need, I am a firm believer that every little bit counts. Not only is this challenge a way to raise some funds to hopefully find a cure for this horrible disease, but it also brings awareness by everyone talking about it. I again count this as a win.

No one is making you do the challenge. To each their own. I find this challenge a way of trying to use social media for a good cause. This has obviously worked, so other organizations can find a way to use the same idea. Yes, there are people who will not donate or take part in this. And that is not a problem. Social media can be a powerful tool with fundraising and awareness. We are still figuring out how to use our resources for good. It is very trial and error, but I have a hard time faulting something that works.

For me, what is worse than all the videos filling up my social media feeds is all the people bashing it and complaining about it. People are finding a fun way to donate and be part of a movement. If you do not like it, that’s fine. Again, no one is making you take part in it but to heavily criticize those that do seems a bit extreme. As far as I’m concerned, it is not hurting anyone so let those who want to take part do it and have some fun while raising money.

Recently, I was nominated by two of my close friends and accepted the challenge as well as donated. I did not do it to be part of a trend or so that people could see a video of me in my few seconds of fame. I did it because I think it is a great opportunity to help out a cause that I do not regularly donate to. For those interested in donating or learning more about ALS, go to the ALS Association website at http://www.alsa.org.

Shea Singley is the editor of the Hamburg Area Item. She can be reached at ssingley@berksmontnews.com.

About the Author

Shea Singley

Shea Singley is the editor of The Hamburg Area Item. She grew up in Berks County and spent three years at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she double majored in Creative Writing and English before transferring to Kutztown University where she majored in Professional Writing. Shea graduated from Kutztown University in 2012 and during that time completed an internship in the publication department of a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. She joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in March of 2013 and had enjoyed getting the chance to explore the Hamburg area and meet the readers. Reach the author at ssingley@berksmontnews.com or follow Shea on Twitter: @hamburgitem.