Ice, Ice Bobcats: What’s the word on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has officially become a national phenomenon. Donations to ALS research have now topped $100 million.

Although very effective, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has ushered in a number of concerns. Does it support animal testing? Does it fund embryonic stem cell research? Is it a waste of water? Where is the donation money actually going?

Despite the fact that the challenge has taken quite a bloody turn on campus, several Bobcats are very supportive of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Before we discuss opinions, let’s answer some questions.

What is ALS?
ALS is commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The acronym stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The progressive deterioration of the nerve cells eventually leads to the person’s death.

“Most commonly, ALS strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70, and as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time,” according to the ALS Association. Much more information about the disease and those affected is available at their website.

Does it support animal testing?
According to the ALS Association, advances in research have been made using test subjects such as rodents, worms and flies. Alternate approaches are being explored to minimize this method of research, however.

If there are those who do not wish for their donation money to be used in this method of research, they can indicate their preference in the “notes” section of the donation form.

Does it fund embryonic stem cell research?
The ALS Association’s website also says that the association “primarily funds adult stem cell research. Currently, the Association is funding one study using embryonic stem cells, and the stem cell line was established many years ago under ethical guidelines set by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.” The single embryonic research study is funded by one specific donor.

Just as individuals can indicate whether or not they want their donations to go to animal testing, they can also do so with stem cell research in the “notes” section of the donation form.

Is it a waste of water?
Three million people have now participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge. With the average a minimum of a gallon per challenge, that makes 3 million gallons of water.

Where is the donation money going?
A precise breakdown of where the Ice Bucket money will be going is currently unavailable, but in progress. Representatives of the ALS Association stated that they are “absolutely committed to transparency” and are currently discussing how to utilize the money.

Has the challenge educated fellow Bobcats on ALS?
While students seem to be very supportive of the cause, they expressed their concern about the waste involved and the lack of awareness about the disease itself.

Marissa Miller, a freshman who’s undecided on a major, has not been challenged yet and therefore has not participated in the challenge. She is aware, however, that ALS is a disease that causes people to lose control of some of their movements.

Miller is currently on the fence about the challenge.

“It’s becoming a social media thing,” said Miller. She said that if she is nominated to participate in the challenge, she will accept it in addition to donating money.

Samantha Presti, a junior studying marketing,  has done the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. She believes it is raising awareness and said that she would not change a thing about the challenge.

When asked what ALS is, Presti responded, “Isn’t it…Lou Gehrig’s disease?”

Luke Abner, a sophomore studying screenwriting, has yet to be challenged either. Abner was hesitant to say that he would participate if challenged.

“I can see how it would raise awareness, sort of, but why not just do the donation then?” said Abner. He was also able to identify ALS as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Maria Figueroa, a sophomore studying business, has also not been challenged and stated that she would not do the challenge if she is nominated.

“I believe it’s a waste of water. I would just donate,” said Figueroa.

She expressed her concern with droughts around the world and stated that she would like the challenge to include something less wasteful. She was also able explain what ALS is.

Autumn Sprunk, a sophomore studying international business, has done the challenge and put a unique spin on it after she completed it. After she completed the challenge, Sprunk posted on Facebook that she would donate one dollar for every like she received, up to $50. With her innovative twist to the challenge, Sprunk not only immersed herself in freezing water but also donated $50 to the cause. She was also able to identify that ALS is Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Landon Bailey, a junior studying exercise physiology, was recently nominated and intends to do the challenge soon. Bailey was, however, unable to define ALS.

“I don’t know what it stands for personally, but I know it’s for a cause,” he said.

Jan Becwrka, a fifth-year senior studying outdoor recreation, has also done the challenge. He was aware that ALS was Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

“You lose muscle function,” said Becwrka.

He recognized the social phenomena and the lack of education about ALS involved in the challenge.

“A lot of people aren’t educated about it I guess…It’d be better if there was more education about it involved,” said Becwrka.

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