How the Ice Bucket Challenge is Good for Everyone

I think that all of us who have visited the Internet lately have seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Many of us have even been invited to join in, or face donating money to benefit ALS research efforts, and the search for a cure. ALS, (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is like MS, in that it is another form of ‘sclerosis’. This means that they are basically related diseases, maybe cousins. They are very different in some ways, and at the same time have quite a few symptoms that crossover and affect people with either one or the other. This makes the challenge and awareness it is bringing to ALS and all other forms of sclerosis very personal for those of us living with MS I think. I know it has felt very personal for me, and I am pleased to see people not only dumping icy water over their heads, but also donating to research. The donations will be a wonderful step in helping to someday find a cure for ALS, and hopefully in doing so, finding a cure for all related diseases, including MS!

This challenge has also done something amazing which everyone who deals with a lesser known disease understands and appreciates a lot, and that is bring awareness on a very public level, to the masses. That is something that is quite uncommon in the world of diseases such as MS and ALS. Cancer, diabetes and heart disease are all well known, and receive lots of money that is donated for research, not to mention global awareness. While I would never wish any funding, etc. be taken away from any of these worthy diseases, it is nice to see the spotlight on something that could really use it, but doesn’t often get it.

So, recently I’ve had a lot of friends who have been talking with me about the Ice Bucket Challenge. Mostly they’re talking about it with everyone, because it has essentially taken over our Facebook news feeds and social media in general. At this point, a few weeks in and ice being dumped everywhere you look while people scream out in shock and nominate friends and family to do the same thing, there are a lot of people who are “over this trend”. Many of my friends are commenting that for one reason or another they don’t want to see any more of these challenge videos. I respectfully disagree with those who are of that opinion, as I see nothing but positive benefits from the sharing of videos and the donations being made to an extremely worthy cause. While I understand the argument that it has “taken over” I think most aren’t able to see why that is such a huge deal. For someone living with MS like myself (and most of you who will go on to read this post), it means a lot to me to see people learning about just how debilitating these unseen illnesses can be. ALS, just like MS, can obviously have clear physical signs and symptoms, which are easily recognized by family, friends and even strangers. But often it does not, and so this brings to light what it can mean to be dealing with an invisible illness and/or debilitating pain all of the time.

I think what I’m going for here is that there will always be those who find something negative to say about any trend or campaign, no matter what it is. But I’m proud to say that my husband and I not only participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but we donated money and did our best to spread awareness for ALS, MS, and all of the debilitating cousins and sclerosis’ out there. The more people know, and the more educated we can make everyone, the more money that will be raised to help battle the diseases we deal with daily. And hopefully all of this will someday lead to a cure, and then we will just have to dump ice water on our heads for fun, not awareness. I’ll definitely be signed up for that good time!

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