Furthermore, if the ice bucket challenge wasn’t going on right now, would ALS even be in any of your minds? Let’s face it, when was the last time that anyone even spoke about ALS to you or to the millions of people that are sharing it today?
First of all, what is ALS? The ALS association is the only national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front, according to the foundation. Whereas, Lou Gehrig’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
As of Tuesday, Aug. 26, the ALS Association has received $88.5 million in donations compared to $2.6 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to Aug. 26), according to the ALSA homepage. Donations, which were at $22.6 million a week ago, have been increasing by an average of $9 million per day. This dramatic increase comes from the social “hashtag activism” going on all over the web.
Though the awareness of ALS and its cause has spread like a wild fire, thanks to social media and the ice bucket challenge, there are a lot of controversial views as to whether or not it is a “good thing.”
Across Sinton, school personnel, including the Board of Trustees, and other entities, such as the Texas Highway Patrol, are accepting the challenge and taking the plunge. Last Friday, Mrs. Jennifer Puente, wife of Dr. Joseph Puente, in Sinton, their five kids, and six members of Dr. Puente’s staff, volunteered to start the ice bucket challenge.
They received a donation of the ice from their neighbor, Last Stop Liquor, and, in turn, challenged Dr. Rene Acuna and his office, as well as the Sinton Community Action staff. Additionally, the Puente staff and family donated $500 to the cause, which was on behalf of Dr. Puente’s children, Alex, Josh, Leandra, Zachary and Lindsey.
Though the ice bucket challenge has brought about a significant increase in donations and awareness, there are still those who’s belief strays a little from the popular fad. Many online blogs are raging about the challenge, calling it a “Would-You-Rather” game, where people have the option of either accepting the challenge or donating $100 to an ALS charity at alsa.org.
“Some say it’s an attention getter, but I believe if it’s bringing about awareness, then it’s a good thing,” said Melinda Barajas, the Player Agent for Mathis Little League. Barajas, who supports research to finding a cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease because a close friend of hers lost her half brother to the disease, has already helped 18 people in Mathis record five videos of themselves accepting the ice bucket challenge and donate hundreds of dollars to the ALS Association.
“I understand that there are some people who are uncomfortable about donating to ALS because of rumors about the organization supporting embryonic stem cell research,” Barajas commented. “That’s why, when I challenge someone, I allow them the option to donate to a charity of their choice.” The point is to offer support to something you believe in, regardless of the organization, according to Barajas.
There are many, such as the Sinton ISD Board of Trustees (see picture on Education page), who believe the ice bucket challenge is all good and it’s good people having some fun while raising awareness to help a good cause like ALS.
Another view involves Father Patrick Serna, the priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Sinton. Recently, Father Serna posted a scripture from Matthew 6:1-4, which says “not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them,” but to know “that your almsgiving may be secret...and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
As far as the rumor that the ALS Association supports the use of embryonic stem cells for research, information on this can be found by going to http://www.alsa.org/research/about-als-research/stem-cells.html. On their homepage, ALS talks about how it is a successful way of researching cures for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, though it poses ethical concerns. This is the reason that ALS is working with iPS cells, or stem cells that can be created from skin cells, for the time being.
“I am 100 percent for charity that does not support, directly or indirectly, abortion or research based on the use of babies killed by abortion. I judge no one, this is my belief for me and my house,” Father Serna stated. Though Father Serna believes he will lose popularity by going against something that is supremely popular right now, he says his goal is not to be funny, or liked, or popular. He emphasized that, in devoting himself to the church, he has given up family, children and grandchildren because of zeal for the Lord and for wanting to help people get to heaven.
“At the end of the day, that is who I am, and what I want. Have an informed conscience, and make informed decisions, with Heaven always as your goal. If we can bring comfort or a smile, while people strive for Heaven, then we are doing something good,” Father Serna said.
The largest reasons for the controversy with the ice bucket challenge revolve around “attention” and the fact that embryonic stem cell research is either supported or utilized.
“Because I am pro-life, I cannot support the ALS Association specifically, because of their funding of embryonic stem cell research, which can only come from aborted babies,” said Randy Schmidt, a Sinton native and newly published author. “While I support finding a cure for ALS, I also support ending abortion, a horrific practice that ends over 1 million lives in the United States per year (making abortion actually THE leading cause of death in our country).”
By the time the summer heat cools off and ice water no longer feels refreshing, people will have completely forgotten about ALS. Unfortunately, people don’t understand that social problems continue even after you stop hashtagging them.
No matter what side you are on, hopefully, instead of raising a debate on the pros and cons of the #IceBucketChallenge, instead, when you get the chance, you’ll raise that ice water bucket real high and take the plunge, or write a check to a charitable organization and help the cause...the choice is yours!