Led by co-founders Pete Frates, Pat Quinn and Anthony Senerchia, and with the help of celebrities, the Boston Red Sox and Major League Baseball (MLB), the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is making a splash again this August.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. For unknown reasons, veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS as the general population. There is no cure, and only one drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) modestly extends survival.
On Friday, MLB, the Boston Red Sox and representatives of several ALS organizations including The ALS Association joined co-founders Pete Frates and Pat Quinn at Fenway Park in Boston to launch this year’s global social media effort to raise awareness and funds to put an end to this cruel disease.
“We are so thrilled and grateful to have every Major League Baseball team supporting us this year,” said Frates, a former Boston College baseball player and team captain. “Pat and I can’t wait to kick things off this Friday at Fenway. As the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge hits every ballpark around the country, we hope it will get bigger and bigger.”
Throughout the month, each Major League Club will host its own ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and will then challenge another franchise, along with two other local personalities or organizations, to participate in the charitable effort. MLB is also donating $100,000 to The ALS Association. The funds will be used to further collaborative efforts among several ALS organizations to find treatments and a cure for the disease. MLB is also encouraging fans to consider donating to support the ALS community at ALSIceBucketChallenge.org.
“Thank you to MLB and to everyone who is making it possible to transform a moment into a movement, establishing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge as an annual event to find treatments and cure for ALS. We have to finish what started last summer: every August until there’s a cure,” said Barb Newhouse, President and CEO of The ALS Association.
The ALS Association has created resources to help people interested in participating in the challenge this year, including a humorous infographic and instructional video. These materials also provide suggestions for people living in drought areas as to how they can participate without water.
Last year, more than 17 million ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos were posted to Facebook and these videos were watched by 440 million people a total of 10 billion times. More than $220 million was raised globally with $115 million going to The ALS Association, which is putting these dollars to work funding exciting new initiatives to find treatments and a cure for the disease through research, care services and public policy. To read more about progress since last year, visit www.ALSA.org/progress.
Among those who took up the challenge last year were Ben Stiller, Lena Dunham, Chloe Moretz, Justin Bieber, Carrie Underwood, Robert Downey Jr, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Adam Levine, Oprah, Demi Lovato, Hilary Duff, Conan O'Brien and many others.