The act of dumping a bucket of ice cold water over one’s head is no longer reserved for football coaches. Anyone can do it anywhere. It seems everyone is doing it these days, including a long list of celebrities who are drenching themselves to raise money for ALS research. Sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS, short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
The challenge is geared to promoting awareness of the disease and to encourage donations. To date, the association is being flooded with monies earmarked for the cause. Although the challenge first gained media attention in the United States on June 30, 2014 during an airing of the Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive,” it was The Today’s Show’s Matt Lauer who introduced it to mainstream audiences when he accepted the challenge a month later. A special thanks goes out to social media as well for doing what it does best – making things spiral out of control.
Celebrities Who Accepted the Challenge
Since that time, participation in the polar plunge continues to grow. Recently, one of Great Britain’s favorite acting sons, Benedict Cumberbatch, took on a total of six buckets of the chilly stuff. By doing so, Cumberbatch answered the call of three challenges and then some. Ethel Kennedy, the 86-year-old widow of Robert F. Kennedy, not only braved the icy temperatures but challenged President Obama to partake in the challenge as well. The President politely declined the offer but did pledge a donation.
Ice Bucket Challenges with a Twist
Some celerity challengers chose to spice it up a bit. Matt Damon did his using toilet water after being called out by pals Ben Affleck and Jimmy Kimmel. Charlie Sheen doused himself with a bucket filled with cash. Even beloved cartoon character Homer Simpson got in on the act by pouring a glass of cold water on top of his head. However, and perhaps realizing eight ounces is not enough, Bart shows up in a helicopter and dumps everything except the kitchen sink.
Not everyone is enthusiastic about the Ice Bucket Challenge or the ALS research project and has voiced their criticisms. Pamela Anderson refuses to take part in the challenge craze because of the ALS research team’s use of animal testing. Others who spoke out against the challenge but not necessarily against the research itself includes “Pretty Little Liar’s” star Shay Mitchell, who chose to simply donate instead and Carey Hart. The freestyle motorcycle racer posted the following message on his Instagram page: “I went the contribution route. I figure ALS would rather have my money than see me wet. I’ll put the water towards washing my bike later!!”
So even though everyone from moguls like Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey got involved in this stunt, the purpose is to benefit sufferers across the spectrum.