So, I’ve finally been nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge. I’ve read so many comments about it and watched so many videos about it that I decided I should educate myself before dumping ice water on my head. While I firmly believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I also believe that we can agree to disagree on some topics and continue to support one another and our causes. I see no point in coming out as against a viral challenge that has (as of 8/24/14) raised over $70 MILLION for ALS research. No matter what your feelings are on water conservation or using animals for scientific research, I’m sure you can agree that seventy million dollars is an incredible fundraising feat. If you are lucky enough to not know anyone who is affected by ALS, then please take a moment to think about someone you know who may be affected by MS, cancer of any kind, PTSD, depression, Crohn’s, Parkinson’s, or any other kind of debilitating illness, then perhaps you can understand how this level of awareness and fundraising can impact not only the people researching cures for this illness, but also the people who are physically fighting against any illness, day after day. So, the following is my opinion on the whole ice bucket challenge and the people who may be against it.
Let’s start with the water conservationists. First of all, I would like to ask anyone who hates on this challenge because it is wasting water if they do anything on a daily basis to conserve water. Did you install a low flush toilet in your house? Do you let your lawn die in the summer instead of watering it? Do you donate to drinking water charities? Do you live in a region that is affected by severe drought? Do you time your showers? Ever wash your car at a car wash? Do more than one load of laundry a week? How many times have you thought about water conservation before this challenge became viral? Do you have any idea how the water cycle works? If you don’t want to dump a bucket of water on your head, I don’t care. If you want to criticize someone who does dump a bucket of water on their head because they are being wasteful, then it seems to me that you are missing the point of this fundraiser. If you really want to gripe about this challenge being a waste of water, then put your money where your mouth is and donate to a water charity. I’ve listed some helpful websites at the bottom of this post. So unless you’re Matt Damon (who co-founded Water.org and whom I have yet to see an ice bucket video from) please stop hating on one charity in the name of other charitable causes.
On to our next group, the anti-animal research people. Admittedly, I’ve only heard Pam Anderson come out against the ice bucket challenge on these grounds, but I still feel like it needs addressing. The ALS association has come out with a statement making it clear that all donors can specify how their donations are spent. While they do not say that there is no animal testing being done to further ALS research, they do say that no primate studies are being funded and that all of their research adheres to ethical guidelines. They admit to testing “using model systems such as rodents, flies, and worms to better understand disease mechanisms and to develop therapies.” These same research methods are used by many other organizations to help find treatments for other neurological diseases. I am not in any way saying that I support torturing animals. What I will say is that I don’t believe that the people doing research using worms and mice have any kind of malicious intent towards their research animals. While I wish that no animals ever had to be used as test subjects in order to find cures for human diseases, I am grateful for any treatments that come about through the course of this research, especially if it means that someone I know can have a chance at a better life. If you truly do not wish to support animal testing of any kind, then that is your choice. Please do not come out against one charity in the name of another charitable cause.
I’m not going to address any of the other naysayers, of which I am sure I could find many. I will point out that the ALS ice bucket challenge has not only raised awareness of ALS, but as a side effect has raised awareness of water conservation, medical research, and started countless conversations about what being charitable means. My son is very excited to do the challenge and has been anxiously waiting for someone to challenge him. He’s only nine, so I can’t go too deep with the explanation, but he does understand that this is something that is for a good cause. At first, he was only interested because of all the social media attention, so I thought it was important to explain as much as I could about what ALS is and why this is a fundraiser. I wanted him to understand that this isn’t just a YouTube stunt or something to make him popular. This is actually for a good cause. We are trying to do our part to make a positive impact on other people’s lives. So not only is this all for a good cause, but it can be a teachable moment for our children. It can have a positive impact on our society, if we let it. So please, won’t you sit back and take a minute to reflect on what this challenge actually means? Thanks! I’m off to dump some ice water on my head…