The Big Q: Is the Ice Bucket Challenge More about Self-Promotion than Charity?

The Ice Bucket Challenge is a fundraising gimmick gone viral on social media, with participants posting video of themselves getting doused by ice water in a roundabout fight against ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Participants may donate to the cause, but once drenched, they also become challengers, tapping friends who must donate $100, and/or go soak their own heads.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a fatal degenerative disease that eventually shuts down the brain’s ability to initiate and control muscle movement. There is no known cause or cure.

Thus far, the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised nearly $23 million for research. Billionaire Bill Gates, former President George W. Bush, actor Tom Cruise, and singer Taylor Swift are among the celebrity players. Locally, regular folks and politicians alike have taken up the challenge. (On Sunday August 24th at 2:00 p.m. in the parking lot adjacent to the Main Street Oyster House, Del. Wayne Norman, Carol Kiple from the Republican Central Committee, Councilman Dick “Coach” Slutzky, and House of Delegates candidates Teresa Reilly and Michael Blizzard plan a public dunking and passing of the hat to help fight ALS)

Is the Ice Bucket Challenge more about self-promotion than charity?

Either way, its success is sure to spawn copycats. So, what’s next? Poke a pencil in your eye to promote literacy?


  1. A realist says

    From charity and awareness, to calling someone out and giving them 24 hours to do this challenge.

  2. anti trendy peoples hater says

    Its definitely the latest “social” trendy, fad thing to do. I agree it is bringing more awareness, but… lots of people are generally nutswingers, followers and have to portray a “pat me on the back” showoff persona.

    You can donate secretly without anyone knowing or do any lame “challenges” to one up your “Facebook friends”

    Don’t forget to “like” this comment. PH? Wait….

  3. Give me a break! says

    Why must the media always put some kind of negative slant on things.

    Interesting that this article didn’t lambaste former President Bush, Bill Gates, and the celebrities mentioned for raising awareness of Lou Gehrig’s Disease and helping to raise money for this very worthy cause because of their name recognition.

    Individually for those who participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge, we bring this devestating disease to the attention of family and friends.

    I think instead of writing that candidates are taking on the challenge in the name of self-promotion, we should be thanking them for being able to reach out to hundreds if not thousands of Marylanders to donate to the cause.

    As you stated, the Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral, and look at the result – nearly $23 million has been raised for research.

    Thank you all who have participated and kept the challenge going!

  4. HDGReader says

    I think it’s a unique way to raise money for a devastating disease. Granted, there are those that will use the challenge to show off and make it about themselves but they probably do that for any little thing to get self-recognition on social media. Many people I know have done it and I hope to do it too. With so many stories about people being absolutely horrible to each other, it’s refreshing to hear about a good deed that’s helping so many people and raising awareness.

  5. the person no one likes says

    I won’t participate in the, “ice bucket challenge” nor will I donate. #heel #@sshole

    What do you have to say about that?

  6. Barb says

    Have you ever had to fundraise for an organization? It’s not easy coming up with an idea that hasn’t been used to death before. This ice bucket challenge has, in the scheme of things, been a huge success. Kudos!

  7. RU Kidding says

    The ALS challenge has brought awareness to this disease for sure. What’s bothersome to me is people putting a spot light on themselves capturing a bucket of water being tossed on their heads. So as I understand it, you either take the challenge when presented by someone or make a donation. After finding that the ALS has spent a ton of money on animal testing, I also found this:

    “The answer partly lies in how that money (much from our tax dollars and donations) is spent. A significant portion of our research money has been funneled into creating so-called animal “models” of ALS.

    But here’s the problem and this is a point I have discussed before: ALS is a uniquely human disease. Researchers have artificially created animals who show some symptoms that resemble ALS. But as in so many disease areas, the animal “models” only mimic some of the symptoms of ALS and they differ in what symptoms they produce and the causes behind those symptoms. Thus these animal models are extremely poor substitutes for studying uniquely human diseases.

    For example, for decades, researchers devoted their attention to the genetically engineered SOD1 mouse “model” for the study of ALS. But over the past few years, it has become quite clear what an abject failure experiments using these mice have been. The disease in these mice is not consistent with the most common form of ALS in humans. After forty years of using this standard ALS model, all the drugs that were effective in these animals showed little benefit in humans. In other words, the animal experiments have failed again.

    So, acknowledging the problems with the SOD1 mouse and its little relevance to ALS, researchers then moved on to a different model: the TDP43 mouse. But now, a new study points out how these TDP43 mice differ in key ways from the human disease. For example, in ALS patients, paralysis occurs over time. But this progression of paralysis was not observed in TDP43 mice. These mice usually died of bowel obstructions, whereas humans with ALS tend to succumb to muscle wasting and the inability to breathe”. To read more: