ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Charity vs Vanity

Do people take the plunge for the cause or for the likes?


Faux Ice Bucket Challenge


I’ll be honest, when I was first nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, my first thought was not “Yes, I can’t wait to raise awareness and donate money for this cause.” My initial thoughts were more along the lines of “I’m going to pretend I am allergic to water.”

In the 23 and a half hours I waited to complete the challenge (procrastination at its finest), I watched a video that changed my outlook on this phenomena.

My dad sat down my whole family to watch the ESPN feature “Pete’s Story.” For those of you who haven’t seen it, it is a special on Pete Frates, the former Boston College baseball star and the inspiration behind the ALS challenge. Frates is a victim of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and although he has lost his voice to the disease, he has spoken to millions of people.

When I wasn’t sobbing my eyes out, I listened intently to the facts of ALS. Every year, over 5,000 people are diagnosed and from that moment on, life expectancy ranges from two to five years. These horrifying statistics become reality for people everywhere, and it is our responsibility as a community to help raise awareness and donate.

There is no denying that using social media as an outlet for news is the fastest way to spread knowledge. There is a certain sense of community that is created when people from all backgrounds come together to fight towards a common goal. Cara Delevingne, David Beckham and Gwen Stefani all drenched themselves for the cause.

Some may argue that these celebrities are only doing it to rack up likes on Instagram, but the numbers don’t lie. It has been a long time since any foundation has raised such a vast amount of money in such a short period of time. How is the Ice Bucket Challenge any different from the Susan G. Komen walks? Or the Marathon Strides against MS?

It is unfair to blame the success of the ALS foundation on the vanity of people trying to boost their popularity. Although it is fun to see your favorite actor dump water over his head, especially if he happens to be Leo DiCaprio, it will be even more fun when nobody ever again has to hear the words “You have ALS.”

So if you happen to be nominated by your friend for the Ice Bucket Challenge, first question your friendship, and then suck it up and enjoy. After drying yourself off, donate $10 as well because every little bit helps. I nominate you to make a difference. You have 24 hours. Good luck.



I’ll be the first to admit that I have completed the ALS Ice Bucket challenge. However, that doesn’t mean I did it with the right intentions.

What was meant as a challenge to promote the ALS Association, an organization that raises awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, turned into a worldwide epidemic. Each day, videos of individuals accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge plagued social media sites, flooding the news feeds of friends, family and acquaintances.

Not surprisingly, I was eventually nominated. At that point in time, I was excited to dump a bucket of ice water over my head. Clearly there is something wrong if I found that fun. Sure, the challenge was meant to promote a good cause, but I had overlooked the underlying message just so I could nominate a few of my close friends to do the same.

It took a few days, but it eventually hit me; I had missed the entire point behind the challenge and, let’s be real, I wasn’t the only one.  Numerous videos were posted online where people failed to even mention the point of the challenge, let alone raise awareness for ALS. This brings us back to the point at hand: society doesn’t do anything unless the individual benefits.

To clarify, I honestly believe that there are only two reasons the majority of us participated in the Ice Bucket challenge: to brag that we had been nominated by oh-so-many people, or to gain our ten minutes of fame on social media.

I’m not saying that nobody donated to the cause. As of Aug. 29, 2014, the ALS Association announced that it had raised $100 million and counting from the Ice Bucket Challenge. Even so, this number doesn’t even come close to the amount of money that could have been raised if everybody who accepted the challenge donated $10 like they were supposed to.

These so-called challenges have good roots, but it is up to us to truly take into account what they are meant to accomplish. We, as a society, need to stop putting our image first and realize that there is more to everything than meets the eye. To put it simply, charity is not charitable if you’re only thinking about yourself.