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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Blows Up Social Media

Millions in Donations continued...

Unfortunately, Frates' friend, Corey Griffin, 27, who was instrumental in having the ALS challenge go viral, died in a diving accident in Nantucket, MA. The accident occurred early in the morning of Aug. 16, when Griffin dove off a two-story building into the harbor. It happened only hours after he had raised $100,000 for the cause, news reports said.

Despite the widespread dumping of icy buckets, most people are clearly also donating. From July 29 to Aug. 21, donations to the ALS Association, including national and chapter revenue, totaled more than $53 million, which eclipses the $2.2 million raised during the same period last year, according to figures released by the association. The total is changing almost by the minute, though, and is being updated daily on the association's web site. The association received $8.6 million on Tuesday this week alone.

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.

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