The Talk

Ice Bucket Challenge: Don’t let silly stunts cool you to message

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Use wisely.
Use wisely.

When is enough enough? When does the public get sick of something that’s gone “viral?”

We may be heading toward an answer to that as the Ice Bucket Challenge continues to heat up.

Not much more can be said about the promotion, started by friends of an ALS sufferer who were trying to raise money to fight the disease. In the last 23 days, the ALS Association has received $41.8 million in donations, compared to $2.1 million last year during the same period.

ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a horrible thing. I had the honor – and really it was an honor – of interviewing a man in the mid-stages of ALS about 10 years ago.

A few months earlier, he had been going about his day-to-day life like you or I. One morning he woke up tired and achy. By the time he met with me, he had to struggle to get every word out of his mouth, pausing frequently because of muscle weakness and exhaustion. He was wheelchair bound and dependent on his wife for just about every daily task.

But he was brave, because he wanted people to know the real face of ALS and bring attention to the organizations, not just the ALS Association, but the Muscular Dystrophy Association and others that had been so generous in helping him through the devastating time that would mark the last few months of his life.

It’s good to bring attention to this condition.

I say that because I don’t want to take ANYTHING away from something bringing money and attention to this important cause.

I’m not talking to you.

I’m talking to the people who may just be having a bit too much fun with ice bucket soaking themselves and their friends without knowing why they’re doing it, and businesses and celebrities using it to promote themselves while forgetting why someone started the challenge in the first place.

One poster on my Facebook news feed called the Ice Bucket Challenge “This year’s ‘Harlem Shuffle.’ ”

He was tired of the challenge, and he echoed the sentiments of people who don’t want to see another wet head in their news feed.

While certainly the ALS Association has benefited tremendously from the funds and awareness, some people are clearly getting annoyed with the challenge. Could that impact the image of the association for something it has no control over? (Remember, the association is not responsible for the challenge.)

I hope the short-term gain will not hurt ALS Association efforts down the road.

I already hear people griping about the association in “too much” money and complaining that funds are being diverted from other charities.

The latter is a real concern. Every time there is a huge push to make donations to a particular organization – say the Red Cross after Hurricane Sandy – other organizations can realize less funding as a result.

Don’t forget about the charities you normally support

If you think the Ice Bucket Challenge is silly, that’s fine. But remember ALS is not. Don’t confuse the two.

If you’re going to do the Ice Bucket Challenge, or challenge your friends, go for it. Don’t let naysayers stop you.

Just remember why you’re doing it, for whom and the ultimate goal.

Then, let the ice water fly.

Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe covers technology and trends plus keeps you up to date on what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler and on social media. Reach her at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook and circle her on Google+.

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