You've seen about it, heard about it, and even participated in it. I'm talking about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It has caused a big stir, mostly positive, around the world in raising awareness (and research funding) for ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Of course, we can't have a positive movement without criticism and fuddy-duddy retorts. "You can't cure ALS with a bucket of ice, so I'm not gonna do that challenge." Whatever. Just shush, and listen up. Here are five reasons you should be proud of this movement, whether or not you or someone you know is currently affected by this disease.
1. People are uniting for a cause.
Raising awareness, or money, or both, people are coming together and calling upon one another to take a stand. It's not anything you've heard of or knew much about before? Huh. That was us before stillbirth. We didn't know babies could die. Our babies. Stillbirth isn't something people talk about. Neither is ALS. It's real, it's out there, and it deserves medical research and advances as much as any other ailment or medical anomaly. A bucket of ice won't cure ALS, or prevent stillbirth. But you know what it will do? Get people talking about it, get people thinking about it, and moving the needle to a worthwhile cause that doesn't get the spotlight as it rests in the shadows of other, also worthwhile, causes. Stillbirth research will always have my heart because of what we've been through, but you know what? I'm okay giving to other causes because I hope one day, those people will want to give to stillbirth research and prevention. Just because.
Celebrities, neighbors, kids, coworkers, bosses, friends - everyone is on the same playing field in this cause. People of all ages, genders, beliefs, and backgrounds are coming together to say "this disease is brutal for those who have it, and I'll support it, if only for five minutes and ten dollars." They may never think about it again, but the point is they're thinking about it now. And they're setting all differences aside to come to aid of those who need it. That is powerful.
2. People are showing self-sacrifice.
Ice water is cold. Really, really cold. Having it dumped over your head makes you really, really cold. It's uncomfortable. But it's temporary, and being temporarily uncomfortable in an effort to show solidarity with those who are uncomfortable living with the disease, is nothing to shirk from. You know what else is uncomfortable? Talking about it. Talking about muscle atrophy. Death. But it's happening, and it needs to be talked about. Another uncomfortable thing - more for some than for others - is to open that pocketbook to give to a cause. Some don't have the extra bucks. But they have heart. Good for ALS for raising research funds they've only dreamed of previously. And kudos to everyone who has chipped a little from their budget to make it happen.
3. It's tapping into a creative, innovative vein.
I've seen so many videos of the challenge, and people coming up with as creative ideas as possible for having ice dumped on them. I've seen people be incredibly creative with how, who, and where they give money to. I've seen funny videos, I've seen tear-jerking videos, and I've seen videos like mine - no frills and to the point (and hard to hear). But there is a desire within the people who are participating to really make this a memorable experience, and I love that. They're also being creative with who they nominate to take the challenge. Cookie Monster was nominated for pete's sake! I love it. Keep on creating, people. Don't stop putting your imagination to use!
4. It is raising awareness.
It's raising awareness for ALS, absolutely. There are other groups, causes, and people who have had awareness raised for them as well, and I love it. Get out there and shout your cause from the mountain tops! The next time I feel like I'm talking to myself begging for help to clean the kitchen, I might just dump a bucket of ice water over my head, because it will get the attention of my family! This awareness has exploded, all because of a simple challenge, and that. is. awesome. It also raises awareness in the reward of charitable giving. People are learning the meaning of it being better to give than receive. This is a lesson that everyone, everywhere, should be made aware of, and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is helping spread that message.
5. It's teaching our children.
I've seen so many families partaking in the challenge together. Kids filming parents. Entire families dousing themselves. Kids seeing their parents involved, seeing others they respect and look up to involved, and being involved themselves, teaches so many valuable lessons. It teaches them there is power in standing together for a cause. It teaches them giving doesn't have to be hard or only ever out of obligation. It teaches them to think outside the box when faced with a challenging situation. It teaches them about facing adversity. It teaches them about hope. It teaches them that they, even as kids, have the power to make a difference. My heart swells up thinking on this last point alone. Go get 'em, kids.