Ice cubes mean dollars for charity

THESE TIMES: For one weekend, we were 18 again
THESE TIMES: For one weekend, we were 18 again
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How do you know when a topic is trending online? When Kermit the Frog and R2-D2 get in on the action.

The ALS ice-bucket challenge has been “the thing to do” in the last few weeks as young and old, famous and amphibious, droid and human have been challenged to dump a bucket of ice-cold water over their heads to raise funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

But, you don’t just privately douse yourself and write a check to support the cause and go about your business. You must capture it on video and post it on social media.

Here’s the premise: A person is challenged by a friend or relative, and that person has 24 hours to drench him- or herself and, in turn, challenge a few buddies. But, here’s the important part. You must make a donation to ALS: $10 if you have ice-cold water dumped on your head, $100 if you don’t.

Both of my kids were challenged by friends and took turns throwing chilly water on each other, and I thought I had escaped being named when they called out other people. I winced, though, when I heard my name as I watched a Facebook video of one of my friends take part in the challenge. Thanks, gal pal.

I have watched many of my friends soak themselves in the name of charity; but it isn’t just your typical friend or neighbor who’s getting challenged.

Investor/business magnate Bill Gates was challenged and created a contraption that overturned the bucket with the pull of a rope. President George W. Bush accepted the challenge, as did Buzz Aldren, Oprah Winfrey, Weird Al and scores of other celebrities, musicians and entire professional athletic teams.

Peter Frates even did it earlier this month. Who is he?

Frates is the reason everyone is wet and shivering. The 29-year-old former Boston College baseball captain was diagnosed with the progressive neurodegenerative disease ALS in 2012. Today, Frates is confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, although he can still communicate by computer.

One of his friends introduced the ice-bucket challenge several months ago to bring awareness to the disease and, maybe, solicit some extra cash for the ALS Association. It caught on like crazy during the hot summer months.

I find it hard to get past my thighs in my parents’ swimming pool unless it feels like tepid bath water. So, dumping freezing ice water on my head and body certainly doesn’t seem like a swell time to me. Instead, I will give a donation to ALS (because that’s the “rule”), but I’m breaking that $100 into smaller increments and also writing checks to a few local groups I support.

There are people out there who think the whole thing is a silly waste of time and water. I think the idea is to have a little fun while drumming up support for something serious like an incurable disease. As of Monday, the ALS Association had received $80 million since the debut of this ice-bucket craze. How can this be considered silly?

Now, if someone issues a challenge to dip your face into a bowl of chocolate for the sake of homelessness, please — PLEASE —nominate me.


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