Seniors tackle Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

Every once in a while, a social media trend inspires Internet users to come together to support a cause. Seniors are among those users that enjoy participating in viral crazes. Residents living in retirement communities across the world have remained involved, whether they’re dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” or participating in flash mobs to catchy tunes.

The latest trend on Facebook and YouTube is known as the Ice Bucket Challenge, where a person pours a bucket filled with ice water over his or her head to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease. Everyone from celebrities to students to seniors have participated in this craze, which has led to both an increase in public knowledge about the disease and a significant rise in the number of donations to the ALS Association.

The basics of the Ice Bucket Challenge
People who are nominated to complete the Ice Bucket Challenge must post a short video of themselves dumping ice water on their heads. After completing the task, they must nominate someone else to do the same – that person has 24 hours to do the Ice Bucket Challenge and if they refuse, they must make a $10 donation to the ALS Association.

According to the ALS Association’s website, the challenge began after Pete Frates, a resident of Beverly, Massachusetts who has ALS, began spreading awareness on his personal sites. After receiving attention from prominent sports players in the state, the challenge exploded in popularity.

People raise millions for the ALS Association
While people have been participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge for the past several months, it has gained significant traction in the last few weeks. Celebrities and well-known organizations, including Martha Stewart and the New York Giants football team, have pledged to the cause. The Associated Press reported that since July 28, donations to the ALS Association have risen by nearly 1,000 per cent.

Seniors excited to join the cause
ALS is a physical condition that affects a person’s ability to control his or her movements. Over time, the person loses portions of their nervous system, leading to weaker and less functional muscles. Generally, people are not diagnosed until their later years. According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s website, the average age of diagnosis is in one’s late 50s.

Seniors have eagerly jumped on the Ice Bucket bandwagon, posting videos of themselves covered in ice water for the charitable cause. One prominent senior who participated in the social challenge was Ethel Kennedy, the 86-year-old widow of senator Robert F. Kennedy. After being nominated by her grandson, Maxwell, she proudly accepted the challenge and covered herself in water.

“A good campaign starts at the grassroots and makes its way to the very top,” Ethel told Boston.com. “Our family is proud to join the wave of advocates championing increased awareness and funding for ALS.”

At the end of the short clip, which can be seen here, Ethel announced her own nomination – the President of the United States, Barack Obama. The White House acknowledged the request and reported that Obama would not be participating in the challenge, but would be making a monetary contribution instead.