BY BRANDON DESOUSA
Taking the nation by storm, the ALS ice bucket challenge helped spread awareness of the horrible disease. According to The ALS Association, the Ice Bucket challenge has raised over $115 million since July 29th. Pouring iced-water over our heads seems like a small cost for the amount of money raised, and awareness spread.
The rules of the challenge state that, if challenged, a participant must publicly post a video where they pour a bucket of iced-water over their head. In this video, the participants must then challenge three others to partake in the challenge. The catch: the challenge must be completed within twenty-four hours of being challenged. If not completed in a timely manner, the challenger then is obligated to donate $100 to an ALS foundation of their choice. By adding rules, the act of spreading awareness is made fun. The Ice Bucket challenge has been coined as this summer’s “Harlem Shake”. While the Ice bucket challenge was more concerned with raising awareness and money, the fun factor involved makes comparing it to the Harlem Shake a no brainer.
All games aside, do people actually know what ALS is? Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the hall of fame baseball player who had the disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to progressive muscle deterioration and weakness. ALS may currently be affecting around 30,000 Americans and is considered to be the most commonly occurring neurodegenerative disease. Victims of ALS tend to begin noticing symptoms between the ages of 50 and 60. These symptoms may include things like obvious muscle weakness, trouble swallowing, and impaired use of arms and legs. Most people don’t live past two years following the onset of symptoms.
As horrible as this disease sounds, it actually turns out that most of the money being donated does not go to ALS research, but is actually split to cover several expenses within the ALS Association. When people donate to something like the ALS Association, they tend to assume that most, if not all, of their money is directly benefiting ALS research.
Michael Strupp, a sophomore business student, partook in the ice bucket challenge after being challenged by a friend. When he missed the 24 hour cutoff to respond, Michael committed to also donating $100 to the ALS Association, in addition to pouring a bucket of ice on his head. Michael suggested that “It felt like the right thing to do.” Along with spreading awareness and taking part in the challenge, he wanted to contribute from his own pocket. He was unaware that only about $28 of what he donated would actually be directly benefiting ALS research. According to a figure posted by the ALSA detailing their financial expenditure, only about 28% of all money being donated actually funds ALS research. “It’s a shame that so little of what I donated is actually going towards research,” citing that he donated mostly to benefit research endeavors. While 28% of all funds is still a rather sizable contribution, it is only a small fraction of what is being donated.
Based on the financial reports available on the ALSA website, 7% of funding is allocated to administration salaries. In addition to this, an additional $3.6 million is spent on “other salaries and wages”, and half a million is spent on “pension plans” and “employee benefits
Donating to the ALSA supports a great cause and the response that the ice bucket challenge has created has definitely been overwhelmingly positive. There are many other places to donate for the cause, including our own University of Miami ALS Fund. To learn more about ALS, visit ALSA.com, or als-research.org, a website detailing ALS work done at the University of Miami.