Are students participating for the sake of awareness or the fad?

Brooke Bovee

Last spring, students jumped into the Mississippi River to fight cancer. This summer, we’ve transitioned to dumping ice water on our heads for a disease. From former President George W. Bush to the ever-bitter television personality Simon Cowell, many people have braved a new fundraising fad — the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a chronic neurological disorder. The purpose of the Ice Bucket Challenge is to use social media to create awareness of the disease and to raise money for the ALS Association. By dumping ice water over themselves or by donating money, participants have substantially increased awareness of the disease. The ALS Association raised more than $100 million in a 30-day period last month, in comparison to $2.8 million during the same time last year.

However, some have raised questions regarding the challenge. What does the ALS Association do with the money? Are people participating in the challenge for attention or to raise awareness?

Sites such as Charity Navigator show you how much of your donation goes to your charity’s cause. The ALS Association spends 73 percent of its budget on services and programs. That’s a pretty good number, but we should compare it to that of the American Red Cross’s 90.4 percent.

Many people wonder how the ALS Association will use its donations. So far, the association has allocated $99 million toward hiring scientists to research a cure and treatments for ALS. However, when the ice bucket fad and the rush of donations it brings fades away, what will happen to all of the new scientists whose paychecks are funded by the donations? Other than the scientists, the ALS Association hasn’t released much information on what it is doing with all the donations.

Curing ALS will demand more than a one-time donation, and the fight against the disease will continue long after the Ice Bucket Challenge is a distant memory. We should celebrate the increase in awareness and donations to the ALS Association, remembering that these — not our 15 seconds of fame — are what really matter.