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All around the Globe – pun intended – videos of the ALS ice bucket challenge have gone absolutely viral. Nominations targeted at friends and family across oceans and continents, a brilliant cascade of ice and water, a myriad of human expressions – colorful language and shameless squealing being especially popular. This three-step process is, in essence, the ice bucket challenge.
I may not have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)and I may never understand the physical and mental stress the victims face every day, but I do know this. As I stood there, eager and happy and excited to be part of a global social phenomenon, I didn’t know.
I didn’t know the feeling of being so numb I couldn’t feel my own limbs, of barely being able to breathe. I didn’t know the fear of not being in full control of my own body. It might have been seven degrees outside in the cold, crisp night of Melbourne and I might have been sopping wet and shivering, but the only thing on my mind was empathy.
Imagine slowly losing control of your physical self. No longer able to do the things you once loved – be it footy, riding, gymnastics, etc… Imagine losing your own free will, trapped like a prisoner within your own body and forced into submission. Imagine living with the knowledge that one day – tomorrow, next week or maybe ten years away – your voluntary decision to breathe could be stripped away. In the words of a typical college student, “it’s pretty freaky.”
People might complain that the challenge is ‘stupid’ and ‘pointless’, but that’s the furthest from the truth. No matter who you ask, people will always react at the mention of cancer. People will always grimace at the mention of AIDS. However, until recently, the terrifying ALS disease was kept well insulated from the general public. But now? Now the tables have turned. Awareness and funds have been raised to combat this terror.
So no. The Ice Bucket Challenge isn’t ‘dumb’ and ‘annoying’. It’s everything to these patients. Rather than stopping, we should continue to show our support in the only way we can. Take the challenge and donate. Spread the word. Pass the parcel. Call it what you will.
If you’ve read until here, thank you!
And if you’re still unacquainted with the sensation of a freezing hell, I hereby nominate you to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The global craze may have died down, but ALS hasn’t. So get around it, guys!