Why The Ice Bucket Challenge Was Worth It
In the second half of 2014, social media accounts were flooded with videos of people pouring ice and/or icy cold water over their heads.
The so-called Ice Bucket Challenge was a phenomenon, and one that was initially designed to raise funds and awareness of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and, more specifically amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), aka Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Despite the good intentions, this challenge wasn’t without criticism, with publications as varied as The Telegraph, Vice and xojane sharing opinions that it was vain, trendy and “ridiculous and annoying”.
“There are a lot of things wrong with the Ice Bucket Challenge, but most the annoying is that it’s basically narcissism masked as altruism,” Vice assistant editor Arielle Pardes wrote in August 2014.
“By the time the summer heat cools off and ice water no longer feels refreshing, people will have completely forgotten about ALS. It’s trendy to pretend that we care, but eventually, those trends fade away.”
As the Ice Bucket Challenge reached saturation point (couldn’t help it), critics wondered whether even half the people doing it were actually donating money to a relevant organisation. The so-called “hashtag activism” branding was stamped across the challenge, until it eventually faded into our memories.
But this week the Ice Bucket Challenge has come back in a new form, with news that the experiment has helped raise over $3 million for MND research in Australia.
According to MND Australia, the Ice Bucket Challenge inspired over 50,000 Australians to donate money to its research arm, MND Research Institute of Australia or MNDRIA. As a result of the donations, MNDRIA has created the Ice Bucket Challenge Grant, worth $1.05 million – the largest grant ever awarded by MNDRIA, for the “largest collaborative MND project to be undertaken in Australia”, as well as a range of other initiatives.
MND Australia says that some of the initiatives funding by Ice Bucket Challenge donations include “enhanced care and support services, funding for the national MND registry and new MND research grants”, including the one mentioned above.
“We understand that the level of income generated by the Ice Bucket Challenge is unprecedented and we are taking seriously our responsibility to urgently spend this windfall wisely to ensure the most benefit for people living with MND and their families,” says President of MND Australia, Mr David Ali.
“Following careful consideration our Board of Directors has agreed that enhancing the direct care and support services provided by our members, the state MND associations, to people currently living with MND must be a priority.
“The wonderful generosity of over 50,000 Ice Bucket Challenge donors will also allow us to bring forward national priorities that will improve the lives of all Australians living with MND.”
So even if people were annoyed by all those Ice Bucket Challenge videos and nominations last year, it’s clear they really were worth it in the end.
Images: Neighbours doing the Ice Bucket Challenge, source: Neighbours Official YouTube channel; Port Adelaide Football Club doing the Ice Bucket Challenge, source: Port Adelaide Football Club on YouTube.