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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Blows Up Social Media

Millions in Donations continued...

The donations have come not only from existing donors but from more than 1.1 million new donors and counting, the association notes.

What's motivating this outpouring of generosity? Greg Cash, communications director of the ALS Association, chalks it up to "a hot summer, a cold bucket of ice water, a good cause, and people challenging each other," and then passing along the challenge. "I think it's seen as a badge of honor," he says.

Whatever is pushing the button, it's certainly a marketer's dream, Cash tells Medscape Medical News.

Detractors on Facebook have called out the challenge for wasting water or have questioned the motives of participants, suggesting that vanity or so-called "slactivism" (participating in a cause without actually having to do anything) are motivating many of those taking part. Pamela Anderson, the actress now known as an animal rights activist, has reportedly declined the challenge because the ALS Association funds animal research.

Still, someone is clearly putting their money where their ice bucket is. "The ALS Association is extremely grateful for the generosity of these donors, and for the actions of several people who initiated and spread this incredible viral effort," says Barbara J. Newhouse, president and chief executive officer of the ALS Association, in a statement.

The additional funds will help the association "think outside the box" in the fight against this disease, Newhouse says. "We will be able to strategize about efforts in ways that previously would not have been possible, all while we work to fulfill and enhance our existing mission priorities nationwide."

These priorities, she says, include:

  • Providing vital support and care services through a nationwide network of chapters to people with ALS and their families in the form of such things as support groups, medical equipment, and respite grants.
  • Empowering ALS advocates to encourage their elected officials to support and advance issues important to the ALS community and convening the largest annual gathering of people with ALS in Washington, D.C., to raise awareness and support government programs designed to help find a treatment and cure for ALS.

For more information, visit the association's web site.

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