You may have seen your Facebook and Twitter feeds filled with people pouring ice water over their heads. Even the Boston Bruins were doing it. What’s the deal? It’s not just a way to cool down this summer—the chilly challenge that’s sweeping the internet was started to raise awareness for ALS. The #IceBucketChallenge was started by Peter Frates, a former center fielder and captain for the Boston College baseball team who was diagnosed with ALS. The 29-year-old and his family have made it their mission to not only keep their spirits high, but also spread the word about the disease and what they're doing to help find a cure. Pete's uncle even topped the Ice Bucket Challenge by making himself into a human Bloody Mary, complete with tomato juice and celery.
So, what exactly is ALS? Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, sometimes called Lou Gehrig's disease, is a rapidly progressive, fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. In basic terms, the brain stops sending signals to the muscles, which causes them to waste away.
The ALS Association reports that more than 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed each year. It is one of the most common neuromuscular diseases worldwide, and 90 to 95 percent of all ALS cases are completely random.
So what's with the challenge? Here’s how it works: Grab your camera and fill up a bucket of ice water. (No cheating—make it big!) Tell everyone about the cause and challenge a few friends to take the plunge—if they opt out, they donate $100. Then it’s time to get down to business. After you’ve dried off, post the video on all of your social media accounts with a link to donate. Easy, right?