About ALS Canada and the Ice Bucket Challenge

By now you've probably heard of ALS, or at least the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Having taken the social media world by storm, the Ice Bucket Challenge involves dumping a bucket of ice water on someone's head to promote awareness of the disease and to encourage donations. The challenge dares nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads and then nominating others to do the same. A common stipulation is that nominated participants have 24 hours to comply or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation. Many people, including celebrities, presidents, and businesses have completed the challenge, and then nominated people of their own to participate.

While the exercise is mostly considered win/win for either raising awareness or money to go towards research, most people who do the challenge also donate.

So what is it you ask? Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, is a progressive degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The damage to motor neurons inhibits the voluntary use of muscles throughout the body, slowly resulting in death. When the motor neurons  die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed, with their mental facilities being completely intact.

ALS was first found in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, but it wasn’t until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to the disease. Ending the career of one of the most beloved baseball players of all time, the disease is still most closely associated with his name.

There are many different foundations, associations and groups that have received the benefit of all of the donations and attention that the Ice Bucket Challenge has brought in. The ALS Society of Canada is a registered, not-for-profit Canadian organization and they provide support for those living with ALS in addition to raising funds for research. ALS Canada is committed to finding a cure for ALS, supporting the provincial ALS societies in their provision of quality care for persons living with ALS, and building public awareness of ALS and its impact.

A statement from ALS Canada: "ALS Canada does not have any relationship to US organizations. All revenue and expenses reported from the US are not applicable to any of our Canadian ALS Provincials Societies or ALS Canada. The outpouring of support you have shown for the ALS community has truly been transformative. Thanks to you, ALS is no longer an unknown disease."

While the disease has reached a new level of awareness, there's always more that can be discovered about this life ending disease. Click here to make a donation to ALS Canada, or find out more about the ice bucket challenge here.

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