By now, one would be hard pressed to find someone who has not seen or heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
It's seemingly everywhere, and seemingly, everyone is doing it.
It's also incredibly easy. All you need is a bucket of water, some ice, a little bravado and something to record the moment with.
Thanks to smart phones and the Internet, folks from across the world are participating in the relatively simple challenge aimed at raising awareness of the deadly neuro-degenerative disease.
In doing so, they're also raising quite a chunk of change to fund research into finding a cure. At the very least, it's hoped the funding will provide those with the diagnosis a better quality of life for longer.
It's estimated that the ALS Association has raised more than $70 million so far. For an organization that generally pulls in a miniscule fraction of that every year, this campaign is a huge coup.
But the challenge isn't without criticism.
There are unfortunately lots of people who are doing the challenge simply because it's trendy. After all, celebrities are coming out of the woodwork to endorse the challenge, with musicians and actors all clamouring for a few minutes in the spotlight.
There are also those who are taking the challenge but don't donate to the cause. Perhaps worse still, there are those who don't bother to find out what ALS is. They simply participate in the challenge because someone they know did.
Education is a critical component that is often missing with any trendy fundraiser. So, here's the skinny: ALS is a devastating disease. It's heartbreaking to watch someone so full of life rapidly deteriorate. Unlike most illnesses that weaken the body, ALS is particularly cruel. The person not only loses all motor skills — the ability to walk, talk, eat on their own, et cetera — but they maintain their cognitive function. Meaning, they are fully aware of their surroundings yet trapped inside a body that no longer works.
There are an estimated 3,000 Canadians currently diagnosed with ALS. If partaking in this fad winds up one day helping to delay, or ease, the slow, agonizing death these folks will suffer, it'll be worth it.
Although ALS is considered a rare disease — it’s estimated two to three Canadians die from it daily —it deserves to have this moment in the spotlight. So, if you see someone taking the challenge, why not spare a few minutes to cheer them on, find out more about the disease, and donate.