On August 4, 2014 I accepted the #icebucketchallenge to #strikeoutALS and it caused quite the controversy with those I challenged and around the social media universe prompting me to sit down and think about why I did it and what I think social media has done to raise awareness for various diseases and life events of those around me.
So why’d I do it? These days I am trying to live more of a yes life, to accept challenges, to break out of my comfort zone, to do things that I didn’t think I could. Now it’s not that I don’t think I couldn’t throw a bowl of water over my head – it’s that I was accepting a challenge from a friend, I was saying yes to becoming part of a community to spread awareness about ALS and I was stepping out of my own personal comfort zone filming a video of my overweight self soaking wet. #adorable
Someone asked if I felt that social media was helping spread awareness and raise money or was simply satisfying people’s ego? I think it’s better for me share with you my experience. When I first saw this Post by Danny Zambrano about the #quinnforthewin #icebucketchallenge I knew deep down this would somehow be linked to Pete Frates as well and likely somewhere down the line I’d be nominated.
I’d heard about Pete and his battle with ALS through my friend Nikki who had told me about his story when we saw him out somewhere in Boston shortly after he’d made his disease public. I knew his name and I knew he had ALS, but that’s all I knew at that point. It took a week and my nomination arrived. During that week I probably read 25 articles about Pete and ALS, about the signs and symptoms, about his diagnosis, about his family, about his wife, and their baby arriving this Fall (like this one from the bleacher report, this boston.com one, and this one from mlb.com but what moved me the most was this video from Pete’s website).
If you’ve read my blog before you know that I am currently working my through 101 challenges over 1001 days and one those challenges to make a donation to a charity of choice after I complete every task and so for me personally this viral challenge raised awareness to me for all that Pete and his family are going through at this time and they will be on the receiving end of some of those donations going forward.
To donate to Pete’s fund visit www.PeteFrates.com
To speak a little bit more on how social media has affected my awareness and willingness to donate to individuals in need – if it wasn’t for social media I know I wouldn’t know as much about ALS as I do now, I probably wouldn’t have been made aware that a classmate of mine who had brain surgery a month ago or heard about the little boy from Foxboro who wanted cards for his birthday or been able to make donations in their names to the Boston Brain Tumor Walk or I might not have known that my former boss lost her home and all her belongings to an arsonist a two week ago and been able to reach out and show my support. If it hadn’t been for an advertisement on Facebook last year for Boston Christmas Ornaments I might not have donated again to the One Fund. So today as I watched the below interview with Pete’s parents on NECN I was excited to hear that local ALS foundations are reporting that donations are up anywhere from four to ten times more than this time frame last year which they think can only be attributed to the viral nature of the challenge!
So for me social media has helped spread awareness of diseases and misfortunes in peoples lives and has allowed me to make contributions (though I’ll admit small) where I can and I happy to have been a very teeny tiny part of this campaign. The friends and family of Pete and Pat have helped educate so many of us on a disease that most people knew nothing about and for that they should congratulated – their mission was a success!
I think everyone has their right to an opinion on this (and well everything else in life for that matter!) but I also cringe when reading people calling people “dumb/stupid/idiots” for participating. So while I want you to share your opinion below on the #icebucketchallenge please be respectful!