Throw Some Ice on MS

You would have to be living under a rock to not have seen all the interest and fun in raising money for ALS through the Ice Bucket Challenge.  Celebrities to children, grown men to young moms and so many more, have taken the challenge and helped to raise record amounts of cash to use toward research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  Even a number of people with MS and leaders in the MS research community have participated in this challenge.

For those of you who aren’t quite sure what ALS is, it is another neurological disease, much more more insidious than  Multiple Sclerosis.  ALS is a neurodegenerative disease and eventually  spreads to the muscles and ultimately causes paralysis and  death.  ALS is almost always fast moving and most people only have a few short years to live after they have been diagnosed.

After a while it became almost silly to see person after person join into the challenge and dump that bucket on themselves. But it didn't stop or even slow the momentum.  Some bucket dumps were very amateurish while others obviously had a lot of thought put into their efforts. But you can’t argue with success…   Since late July 2014, more than $115 MILLION  has been raised through the ice bucket challenge.  According to Forbes, $2.8 million was raised in the same period last year; those numbers are staggering.  The Ice Bucket Challenge proved how  small donations can add up quickly

How this started is somewhat unclear but it was a simple concept  take a bucket of ice water, film yourself dumping it over you head, and then challenge others to do the same of make a donation to ALS.  There was no marketing, promotional banners or organized events, just people dumping buckets of water and challenging others to join in. The Ice Bucket Challenge demonstrates the power of social media to spread an idea rapidly as well as the far reach of the web. There was a growing cry from the MS community that we should have our own Ice Bucket Challenge to which I would immediately call a flagrant foul.  This is a fund raising effort unique to ALS and copycat versions for other diseases would only appear lame; the energy and excitement of the Ice Bucket Challenge can’t be duplicated.

It is only human nature to look at the massive amount of funds raised and be envious of the dollars they can now put into ALS research.  But remember – ALS is a neurologic disease and any research and discoveries made may very well transfer to other diseases of the brain, including MS.  In other words, their success will also be our success.

And I might add there is absolutely nothing wrong with just feeling good for the ALS community that they finally have all this attention and support.  They are a small group often overlooked for funding dollars – according to the ALS Society, at any given time there are about 30,000 people in the US living with the disease.  Just because I have MS doesn’t mean I can’t and won’t support other charitable efforts.

You and I already know the power of social media – we use social media all the time to connect with each other.  And now, thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge, the fundraisers of the world are turned on to that power and the possibilities.  I expect to see more online challenges, but I predict none will match the success of the simple grassroots inspired Ice Bucket Challenge.  I lack that type of creative thinking, but I imagine one of you reading this has an idea or two as to how the MS community can be the next social media sensation and raise more funds for research.   It’s obvious the American public is a generous group, and loves being in the spotlight even if only for a few moments   – now we just have to get their attention for MS.   Any ideas?

Wishing you well,


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