Say yes to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but remember its true aim

Tein Hee Seow accepts the icy wet challenge, but worries that donations will run dry once the social media fad is over

So, someone issued the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to me. I had two options - suck it up and do it or pay up and donate to the ALS Association. This was my reply.

A soaking wet and pale guy ain’t a pretty sight. But go right ahead and play the video if you dare. I gave you fair warning.

By now, you should have heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The premise behind it is to dunk a bucket of cold ice water onto yourself. Doing so gives you the right to challenge three other people to do the same within 24 hours, or donate to the ALS Association if they forfeit the challenge.

The fund raising activity has gone viral and gotten celebrities such as Vin Diesel and personalities that include Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg joining in. From the United States, it has hit closer to this part of the world, with Asian celebrities Takeshi Kaneshiro and Donnie Yen (you know, the guy that wants to smack 10 people in Ip Man) accepting the challenge too.

As of now, it has evolved to the point where people still donate even after they’ve poured the freezing cold water on themselves. It’s a rare moment to see a unifying force coming together for a good cause.

More after the break...

But there are naysayers (I count myself as one) who are pouring cold water on this activity. I’m not a fan of wasting clean water. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for donating to a good cause. It’s just that with all viral activities, the lifespan is so short, most people will probably forget why it was done in the first place. And I’m just as guilty of that too.

Call me nitpicky, but I'm not sure how a bucket of cold water helps me understand the suffering that ALS patients go through. I don't deny that the challenge has brought more attention, mainly because of the media, to ALS than before, which contributed to a massive donation spike of US$8.6 million in just one day. Note that it's attention, not awareness of what the disease actually does.

The good news is, with the sudden increase in funding, the ALS Association is now better equipped to head up new research and outreach initiatives.

Regardless, while the momentum is still here, I’ve accepted the challenge. Even though I've ice bucketed myself, I’ve pledged US$100 to the ALS Association.

On Facebook, I've seen friends commenting that the challenge is fun, but surely there are other organisations that require our help or that are more aligned with our own cause. Hence, I’ve also matched the same amount to another charity of my choice - the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If it isn't obvious, I'm an animal lover.

With that, my #ALSicebucketchallenge has been accepted and completed. I've named the three nominees in the video, and to them I say, the ice bucket’s in your court.

You’ve got 24 hours.

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