The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

You’ve probably seen people doing something called the “Ice Bucket Challenge” in recent weeks, but what’s it actually all about? Well, besides having freezing cold water tipped over your head, there’s actually a much deeper meaning than just filming this on a camera and posting it online. The Ice Bucket Challenge began in the US after a baseball player with MND (Motor Neurone Disease), Pete Frates, volunteered to have it done to him. A motor neuron is a nerve cell that makes voluntary muscle movements. Known as ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in America (the umbrella term used to describe motor neurone diseases), motor neurone disease affects a person’s ability to move voluntarily.

MND stops people eating, walking and talking, but doesn’t stop them from thinking or feeling, effectively leaving sufferers ‘locked’ inside their own bodies. MND is relatively rare in the UK, with roughly 5,000 people suffering from it. Although that statistic is pretty low, MND doesn’t hang around, and most sufferers will die around 14 months after their diagnosis. Professor Stephen Hawking suffers from MND, however he’s in the minority, with only 5% of people living more than ten years with the disease. He’s had it for fifty! Although things kicked off in America, you can do the Ice Bucket Challenge here in the UK. Simply volunteer to have a bucket of icy-cold water tipped over your head, and once you’ve completed the challenge just nominate two (or more) friends, who then have 24 hours to emmulate your effort or make a donation to charity if they’d rather stay dry. The MND Association is the main charity for the disease in the UK, and they’ve reported that £4,000 has been raised from text donations for the Ice Bucket Challenge since the campaign took off here last weekend. Over $12 million has been raised in the USA so far.

Charity officials are hoping this campaign will replicate Cancer Research’s “No Makeup Selfie” fundraiser earlier this year, which raised over £8 million. If you’d like to show your support for this great cause then do your own Ice Bucket Challenge, nominate 2 (or more) other people and tweet it to @MNDAssoc using the hashtags #MND #IceBucketChallenge to spread awareness far and wide. Alternatively, you can text ‘ICED55’ followed by your chosen donation amount to 70070 to directly help those in need.

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