A few weeks ago a friend of mine, Lindsay Kraft, nominated me for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I didn’t even notice it for about 5 days, but had been thinking about what I would do if I were nominated. I was very torn about how I felt about the challenge, and didn’t know how to react to it.
So why didn’t I support the challenge? I felt like all I was seeing was a bunch of people dumping water on their heads and not donating or really learning about ALS at all. How was that helpful?
But then I learned how much the ALS Foundation was receiving because of the Ice Bucket Challenge. I also watched videos and read posts from people suffering from ALS, explaining why they are so happy they were finally getting attention. I figured they did deserve the attention, people must be learning more about ALS and donating. I knew I was. But I still felt if I were to participate I would want to do something different. If I was going to dump a bucket of ice water over my head I wanted to at least include some information about ALS before doing so. Or maybe I would donate myself. I just started my first 9-5 job with a self-supporting salary, and I should be donating to organizations now. But that lead me to think about why I should be donating to the ALS Foundation and not a different organization. Was a challenge to do so enough?
There are so many other organizations that need the attention the ALS Foundation finally received. While people were dumping ice over their heads, there was extreme injustice occurring in Ferguson, MO, which is still being resolved, but I didn’t see nearly as many posts about that. I very passionately support movements to end the discrimination and prejudice against people of color, people with disabilities, non-gender conforming people, and women. I also strongly support summer camps and programs for children of incarcerated parents, from my own experiences. So, while I thought it was great people with ALS were receiving support and attention, I felt there are so many other people and organizations who need that support too. I thought, shouldn’t I donate and raise awareness to them instead?
I had plans to find multiple, thoroughly researched organizations, I wanted to donate to, and post about them, while promising to allow Lindsay to pour a bucket of ice water over my head when it was really cold (for not accepting her challenge). It seemed like a good idea to me, better than becoming lost in a mass of the same videos. Plus, maybe waiting a few months for the ice bucket could bring attention back to ALS after the fad has passed.
Then, time passed, and I hadn’t posted anything. I’ve had a very big, transitional summer. I just graduated college, started working, and moved to a new city. My friends are everywhere, and leaving the country or to the other side of the country all the time. My boyfriend just moved close to me for the first time, as well. So, I’m working on balancing all of the new things in my life, and that is difficult for me at times. Over this time of not posting anything, or fully researching what I would like to donate to and/or raise awareness of, I’ve realized, I’m not any better than the people who dumped some ice water on their heads in early August, without spreading any real information about ALS.
Those are the people I judged heavily for a few weeks. But I am not perfect. I don’t do all of the things I want to do, and I am sure all of those other people are similar. Maybe they are also camera shy, afraid of going against the normative, busy doing things for themselves rather than for others. But they did take some time out of their day to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads, feel some discomfort, probably learn something about a disorder, and became a part of a campaign that raised $3 million for the ALS Foundation. Thats incredible!
Additionally, while I never dumped a bucket of ice water on my head or donated to the ALS Foundation, the ALS Ice Bucket challenge motivated me to do so much. No, I haven’t accomplished all of the things it motivated me to do, without it I wouldn’t have looked into the disorder I only slightly remembered from my behavioral neuroscience class a few years ago, and I probably wouldn’t have donated to the two causes I have supported recently. I am also still working toward being more actively involved in the news and the causes I care about. So, thank you ALS Ice Bucket challenge participants, and thank you Lindsay Kraft. Without your nomination, I wouldn’t be writing this at all. I am not better than you all, and I regret feeling I ever was.
With that said, I will provide some information about the things I have been motivated to find out more about, donate to, and/or raise awareness about.
A little about ALS:
If you didn’t already know: ALS, or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that you can learn about more here: http://www.alsa.org/about-als/. On the same website, you can read about what the organization does, hear from people suffering from ALS and their families, donate to the organization, and more.
Some about the donations I have made:
Mar-Lu-Ridge is a Summer Camp and Retreat Center in Jefferson, MD. Their mission statement is, “We welcome all people to a mountain-top experience of Christian community that changes lives, makes disciples, builds friendships, and encourages care of God’s
I attended summer camp there from 2001-2009, participated in the Staff In Training Program there in 2010, and worked there during summer 2011 and 2012, and the mission statement could not be more true for me. Mar-Lu-Ridge helped me form my identity, explore my faith, appreciate nature and hiking, find the best friends I could ever hope for, and more. It will always be a home to me, and I hope for generations of youth to come.
On September 28th, Mar-Lu-Ridge is having their annual Walkathon, a fundraiser to support camper scholarships and funding for necessary projects and renovations. I donated and will be attending Walkathon this year, and am beyond excited. If you would like to learn more about Walkathon or make a donation, please go here: http://www.mar-lu-ridge.org/mar-lu-ridge-walkathon-2/. If you would like to learn more about Mar-Lu-Ridge, more information can be also be found on their website.
Amancer is an orphanage, homeless shelter, and community service organization one of my closest friends will be volunteering at over the next few months. Julia will be working at the Madre de Dios Home as a teacher and caregiver. While Amancer is providing Julia with food and shelter as she volunteers, she would like to bring them a donation to help financially support the organization. You may learn more about Julia’s trip and support her by going here: http://www.gofundme.com/8o81jc, and learn more about the organization here: http://188.8.131.52/~amane514/.