Here's How Much Money the Ice Bucket Challenge Is Actually Raising

If you’ve been on Facebook recently, you may have noticed a lot of your friends posting videos where they pour buckets of ice water on their heads to raise money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”). But just how effective is this viral campaign?

The concept behind “The Ice Bucket Challenge” is simple: People dump a bucket of freezing water on themselves and dare their friends to do the same within 24 hours. If they refuse the dare, they’re encouraged to donate money to an ALS charity of their choice.

Former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates made the campaign popular by encouraging people to participate in late July. Frates was diagnosed with ALS in 2012. The neurodegenerative disease affects both the brain and spinal chord. About 5,600 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year, according to The ALS Association.

While the campaign has garnered a significant amount of attention on Facebook, theoretically, every video you see is of someone choosing to spread awareness rather than donate money. However, the ALS Association’s national president, Barbara Newhouse, told a CBS Boston affiliate that donations this year are exceeding $168,000. This time last year, the Association had raised $14,000.

“The ALS Association just couldn’t be happier with the visibility that this is bringing to our disease, ALS and the ALS movement,” Newhouse told the station.

Frates’ wife Julie told Elle magazine that, although the campaign seems like a stunt, it’s important for people to remember that donations are what are most helpful.

“It’s both pieces. It’s seeing people do this and also donating to your local ALS chapter or whatever you choose,” she explained to the magazine. “It’s become so big now, people are questioning whether it’s effective, but it’s definitely effective. We just got a call from our Massachusetts ALS association who said donations are up 10 times this week from what they were this time last year. So obviously, Pete’s fund sees the benefits of it, but it’s much broader than our foundation… we’re making real progress here. It’s not just a trending thing on Facebook.”

You can watch people participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge on Frates’ Facebook Page.

If you’re interested in making a donation to The ALS Association, head here.

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