Monday, August 11, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

Eliot and I have been tagged to do the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS Awareness that's sweeping our nation via social media.  (Ironically, we were actually discussing this over the weekend, and guessing which of our friends would be the first to challenge us.)  Eliot and I have decided that we're not going to participate in the challenge.  Now, before you start judging us and why we're not going to join in, this is our reasoning.

Although it seems to be the current thing to do, we're taking a different stance.  I've seen tons of my Facebook friends, television morning hosts and famous celebrities who are all doing it.  However, my mother taught me not to jump off a bridge just because everyone else was doing it.  I'm not knocking those of you who have participated.  Actually, it's quite the opposite; I applaud you.  I'm glad that social media has the power to do something to enrich our lives and make the world a better place for all of us to live.

I've heard that you have to dump the ice, or make a $100 donation instead.  In my understanding, the people who are getting soaked in ice water are not donating to ALS. (In fact, donating seems to be the less popular option according to my Newsfeed.)  Don't get me wrong, the ice bucket challenge did intrigue me when I saw everyone getting soaked in ice.  I even contemplated doing it while wearing one of my mouse ear hats to change it up a bit.  But honestly, I don't know how me dumping a bucket of ice water over my head will help someone fighting a horrible disease.  While I'm sure it would probably be entertaining to watch, that's not supposed to be the point of the challenge.  The point is to raise awareness about ALS.

ALS is short for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and it's often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease."  According to the ALS Association, ALS is "a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death."  It's a horrible disease.  As the motor neurons die, patients may become totally paralyzed in the later stages of the disease.  (To learn more, visit the ALS Association.)

Before the challenge, I didn't know that much about ALS.  Now I've learned more about the disease and how it affects people who have it.  And I think that's the great part of social media.  But, I can't help wondering: where are the challenges to help stop gun violence?  To stand up for equality for men and women?  This challenge reminds me that there are still a lot of things we can do to help the world become a better place.

Over the past year or so, Eliot and I have done a lot of things to make a small difference in our world.  We've taken donations for and participated in the Walk for Wishes through the Make a Wish Foundation.  We've donated a box of Mickey Mouse soaps to a little boy named Konnor going to Walt Disney World through Make a Wish.

This summer, I donated an afternoon of my time helping clean the cat areas at the Hancock County SPCA.  (My family got our dog Lucky from the SPCA and he was a wonderful companion to us for almost 15 years.)

I have also donated hundreds of dollars to countless charities through the Virtual Runs I've participated in.  One of my favorites is Give Kids the World which is a 70-acre resort located right near Central Florida's world famous theme parks: Disney World, Universal, Sea World, etc.  It is a place where children with life threatening illnesses and their family members can go for a weeklong, cost-free dream vacation.  This is a great cause and it's near and dear to my heart since I've been blessed with so many opportunities to go to Walt Disney World.  It warms my heart to know I'm helping other kids' dreams come true.

In reality, there are many people that need a voice: the homeless, the hungry, veterans, domestic abuse victims, sexual abuse victims, people with other severe illnesses and more.  And there are many causes that need donations: disaster relief funds, animal welfare groups, environmental organizations, humanitarian organizations, etc.

Therefore, instead of participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge, we challenge everyone to donate your time, voice, or money to a cause that's near and dear to your heart.  In the meantime, I'll be finding another virtual run to sign up for to make a small difference.  °o°

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