I first heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge when I briefly read a post shared on Facebook about Bill Gates taking on the challenge. I then read about it again where Elon Musk was soliciting help of his children to undertake the same challenge. To me, it seemed a pointless little thing. What I didn’t know was that the challenge had a much deeper meaning, which, sadly, many of the people taking the challenge neglected to mention. You could say that my ignorance is mostly to blame for it, and nothing else, and I’d partly agree with you. However, I talked to a number of people who knew about the challenge but had no clue what it was about. It’s a real shame that despite the challenge taking the Internet by storm, very few places mentioning the challenge actually took the time to explain or even mention the real deal behind the challenge.
The Ice Bucket Challenge, in and of itself, has no real significance. It serves only two purposes:
- To raise awareness about a life-threatening disease called ALS;
- To encourage people to take on the challenge, motivate others to follow suit, and donate to ALSA, a non-profit organisation dedicated to fighting the ALS disease.
I thought I would write a little and talk about what ALS really is.
ALS stands for “Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosi”. It is also known as the “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”. It is a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The human body comprises of many different kind of nerves. The nerves that provide voluntary movement of muscles as well as muscle power are called “motor neurons”. When you wish to move your limbs, motor neurons are sent from your brain to your spinal cord, and from the spinal cord to your muscles so that your muscles may move to your whims. ALS affects the generation and nourishment of those motor neurons. Under ALS, the motor neurons progressively degenerate, and eventually die. When the motor neurons die, your brain loses the ability to initiate and control any kind of voluntary muscle movement. Eventually, the person affected with ALS runs a high risk of becoming completely paralysed, leading to their death.
ALS is a life-threatening disease. It has no treatments. There are no cures. There are no ways to halt or reverse the progress of the disease. However, there is one drug which has been proven to slow down the progress of ALS, even if moderately.
The Ice Bucket Challenge is there to raise awareness about the disease. I will probably never take the challenge, because it amounts to nothing, except to serve as a lark to boast about among friends, unless it succeeds in bringing awareness about ALS to the forefront. If you wish to donate, here’s how.