Athletes Help Drive ALS Challenge


Ice Bucket ChallengeThe ALS ice bucket challenge, in which a person or persons are challenged to pour a bucket of ice water over themselves and donate to ALS research, has swept through social media lately, with the charge being largely led by names in the sports world.

Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan, Roger Goodell, Adam Silver, the US Ryder Cup Team, The New England Patriots, and Alabama Crimson Tide football team are just a small amount of athletes and people in sports who have taken time to participate in and proliferate the challenge.

In the last 24 days, since the spread of the challenge, the ALS Association and its various chapters have raised $41.8 million as people around the country have been inspired to join in. This is an incredible amount as the total amount raised by the foundation last year was $64 million.

The sports world is largely being credited for the rapid spread of the challenge. Golfer Chris Kennedy is credited with taking the challenge and turning it toward an ALS awareness tool. Then former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates and his friend Pat Quinn, who both suffer from ALS, took the challenge. It eventually got to NHL player Paul Bissonnette, who tweeted out a video to his 560,000 twitter followers.

ALS has always had a link to sports, being known widely¬†as Lou Gehrig’s disease after it claimed the life of the Yankees star in 1941. The challenge, according to ALS Association President and CEO Barbara Newhouse, has helped the disease get recognition without the Gehrig name.

“This is a game-changer for us in terms of awareness,” Newhouse said. “There are young people who aren’t familiar with who Lou Gehrig is and this has allowed ALS to take on a life of its own. This isn’t just Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s Pete Frates’ disease and Pat Quinn’s disease.”

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