In recent weeks on social media, primarily Facebook, videos of people dumping ice water on their heads have become ubiquitous.
The stunt is being done to raise money to fight Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a fatal degenerative neuromuscular illness, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The challenge works this way: Someone in your social media network challenges you to either donate $100 to the cause or dump a bucket of ice water on your head within 24 hours of being nominated.
In many cases participants choose to take the ice cold bucket bath and donate money. Between July 29 and Aug. 19 the ALS Association raised $22.9 million compared to $1.9 million during the same time last year.
Although the origins of the challenge date back several months — as a fundraiser for various causes — the challenge becoming a phenomenon is generally attributed to a campaign launched by friends of Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player suffering from the disease.
Businesses, nonprofits, politicians, attorneys, radio DJs, students and organizations of all types in Maryland have also joined in the challenge in recent weeks. Here is a short rundown of some participants:
- Hard Rock
, vice president of communications for the Maryland Jockey Club, has long been involved with ALS awareness. He is also a founding board member of the Brigance Brigade, a local organization named for ALS survivor and former Raven, O.J. Brigance. “I was challenged by a neighbor of mine who lost a member of his family from ALS,” said Gathagan. “It’s certainly been a huge deal for ALS awareness, but I would hope that folks would also Google ALS and see what it actually does to a human being.” The Brigance Brigade has received more than $100,000 in donations in the past 10 days, said executive director Steve Peregoy. “This will help support the many families that need assistance — be it in the form of a wheelchair, a communication device, or home health care support,” said Peregoy. “On behalf of O.J. and Chanda Brigance and the entire Brigance Brigade Foundation we thank everyone for their support and ask that you continue the movement to eradicate this insidious disease.”
Hard Rock Café Baltimore
, located in Power Plant, was challenged by Hard Rock Atlantic City. The employees who participated each made a donation to the Brigance Brigade. Others have been working on internal fundraisers such as a bake sale to raise more money for the local organization. “We just wanted to add the local appeal to it because we do support the OJ Brigance Brigade,” said Jamie Spicer, sales and marketing manager for the Baltimore Hard Rock.
was the first staff member at ChasenBoscolo Injury Lawyers to take the challenge. He was motivated to do so in part because a friend of his, a young lawyer, died suddenly of ALS. “It’s a good use of social media to fight off a nasty disease,” he said. “We’re a pretty community-involved firm, so I knew our employees would embrace it.” Teodori nominated three coworkers, and it quickly spread throughout the entire firm. More than 20 attorneys took the challenge, he said, including Benjamin Boscolo and Barry Chasen.
Local radio personality Steve Davis
of 105.7 The Fan also soaked himself, thanks to a nomination from his daughter, Allison. “I know two people that passed away from ALS. I’ve known OJ Brigance for 20 years,” he said. “Anything to create more awareness and more fundraising is just critical. When you see somebody who’s gone through this and what they’re going through, there’s a helpless feeling of ‘I wish I could do more.’”
, Baltimore’s former mayor and the newly appointed president of the University of Baltimore, completed the challenge Monday, while UB’s School of Law Dean Ronald Weich plans to do so Thursday. “I was happy to make a donation and accept the challenge. I was particularly gratified to be joined by three UB students, one of whom had recently lost a family member to ALS,” said Schmoke. “And, yes, it was cold!” Weich, who was challenged by law student Chelsea Wilber, said he doesn’t feel obligated to answer the student’s dare, but that he hopes his participation will be a bonding experience for the UB community at the start of the academic semester. “I think it’s wonderful; it’s just a very vivid way to draw attention to this subject, and I’m very happy to lend whatever visibility I have to a good cause like this,” Weich said. “It’s great that students are going to be there to watch me get dunked. It’s a good way for everyone to get together and have some fun as they’re starting school.
, Howard Bank’s senior vice president, community relations and government affairs, and business liaison, participated for a number of reasons, but the top being that he believes it’s a “good thing” to contribute toward combating ALS. “Howard Bank is very focused on community organizations, health and welfare of the community. And we encourage all of our staff, from sellers to CEO, to be active in community organizations,” Story said. “So this kind of fits in with both personal and corporate culture — plus it’s fun.” But his video goes beyond the typical dumping of the ice bucket. Story, dressed in a suit, first drops some ice into a glass of Scotch. Then, with the help of four of his grandchildren, he holds up a cardboard cutout of himself that is soaked. After dead-panning to the camera, “What do you mean that’s not fair?” he gets soaked for real. When asked if it was uncomfortable getting doused Story quipped: “No, it was a nice suit.”
Anne Smoley, president of the Harford County Association of Realtors Inc., said several members of the organization’s board and women’s council decided to participate after being challenged by a local Realtor. “I’m hoping this is the first [stunt], and that other charities, and other endeavors, will be able to do good using social media as the means,” Smoley said. The board has challenged the Greater Baltimore Board of Baltimore Realtors to also take the challenge. “We’re waiting for them to pick up the ice bucket so-to-speak,” she said.