In 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge took off in a big way.

It was a legitimate social media phenomenon, bolstered by promotion from dozens of celebrities and millions of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram users. 

The idea was simple: pour a bucket of ice water over your head, then challenge others to do the same. The people you challenge have 24 hours to either comply.

The point is to raise awareness of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a fatal disease that causes neurons to die, eventually resulting in muscle loss and a drastic reduction in quality of life.

image
AFP / JENNIFER BRUCE

In many instances, a person could get out of the challenge by donating to ALS research (but many people donated, then dumped ice on their heads anyway). After all, it’s all in good fun, right?

The Ice Bucket Challenge spread like wildfire, resulting in more than 2.4 million Facebook videos and 2.2 million Twitter mentions. Of course, it wasn’t popular with every audience, and some people actually spoke out against the challenge.

Quickly, the Ice Bucket Challenge attracted criticism.

It’s a natural reaction when a movement goes viral, and if you thought that the Ice Bucket Challenge was a bit self-congratulatory, we’ll forgive you. With that said, the criticisms were completely wrong.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge worked in a huge way.

Here’s the thing: according to the ALS Association, the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge raised a whopping $115 million to combat this deadly disease. While that number fell off significantly in 2015, the program was an unqualified success.

And the ALS Association is a tremendous organization. Seventy-nine percent of donations go toward ALS research, while the remaining funds typically pay for promotion and additional fundraising efforts. 

Meet Anthony.

image
Anthony Carbajal/YouCaring

To Anthony, ALS awareness is personal. Several members of his family have the disease, and right when the Ice Bucket Challenge was picking up steam, Anthony was diagnosed with it himself.

His life was immediately changed forever. In an emotional video posted to the crowdfunding website YouCaring, Anthony explains what ALS will eventually do to his body. He’ll have trouble paying for basic necessities, and unless the disease is cured, it will most likely take his life.

To Anthony, the Ice Bucket challenge is not a self-congratulatory social media campaign. It has real-world consequences; every dollar brings the ALS Association closer to a cure. Every cent could potentially matter.

Watch Anthony’s plea below (warning: it does have some not-safe-for-work language). Keep this in mind the next time a charity begins to raise money on social media; while it’s easy to criticize, it’s important to look at the real people who suffer from diseases like ALS.

Donate to the ALS Association here.