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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Blows Up Social Media

By Pauline Anderson
Medscape Medical News

Aug. 22, 2014 -- It seems like every celebrity is getting in on it, from pop stars to athletes to politicians, as well as millions of ordinary people across the social media universe.

They're all pouring a bucket of ice water over their heads and challenging others to do the same, all in the name of raising money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research and awareness.

In case you've been on a deserted island during the last couple of weeks, the deal is this: When challenged by a friend or colleague, you have 24 hours to either donate $100 to the cause or post a video showing yourself dumping a bucket of ice water on your head to get out of donating. Then, in turn, you challenge three others.

Actor Ben Affleck was nominated by Tyler Perry and did the challenge. He also donated the money and then nominated Jimmy Kimmel, Neil Patrick Harris, Matt Damon, and his wife, Jennifer Garner, who dumped the bucket of ice water on his head before he tackled her into the pool. Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor, was nominated by Robert "Iron Man" Downey Jr., and then he challenged fellow Avengers Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Mark Ruffalo (the Hulk), and Chris Evans (Captain America).Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon received several challenges and in turn challenged the New York Jets, who complied as a group.

President George W. Bush, despite saying in the preamble to his video that having a bucket of water dumped on his head is "not presidential," was soon soaked by ice water at the hands of his wife Laura Bush. He went on to challenge his presidential predecessor, Bill Clinton.

Even President Obama is reported to have been challenged by basketball star LeBron James, although he apparently decided to make a donation instead.

Millions in Donations

The ALS Association credits Pete Frates, 29, a former Boston College baseball captain who has lived with ALS since 2012, for launching the viral sensation some 3 weeks ago. Frates and his family have been fundraisers and advocates for the ALS Association Massachusetts Chapter for a number of years.

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.

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