Unless you gave up social media for the summer, I am sure you have seen and heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I was recently nominated – and participated – and then have been dismayed to see folks criticize this effort: “Are people really donating?” or “Where is the awareness if ALS is not mentioned in the video?”

Let me take a step back. I first heard Pete Frates’ story about 18 months ago when Notre Dame held a Strike Out ALS baseball game in his honor. Current Notre Dame baseball coach, Mik Aoki, coached Pete Frates when they were both at Boston College. In the April 2013 video below, you’ll hear Coach Aoki talk about Pete Frates.

Fast forward to the viral sensation of this summer: the Ice Bucket Challenge, which actually started as a challenge to support any charity, but went viral after Pete Frates challenged his friends to support his personal efforts to raise awareness and funds for ALS.

There are a few things to note from this. ALS is a horrible disease. I can not fathom how gut-wrenching it must be for someone to feel their body slowly shut down, and how even more horrible it must be for those who love them. The brightest light in Pete Frates’ story is the one of inspiration. He is inspiring beyond words (see the ESPN video below on his story).
Even when his body is fading, he is still making a difference.
Even with what many may view as physical limitations that hold him back, he is choosing to move forward.
And people are talking about it. And people are donating. I don’t know the numbers or the statistics, but I can tell you – there is more awareness and more dollars going towards ALS than 18 months ago when I first heard the story of Pete Frates.

But there is another reason the Ice Bucket Challenge is important: the children. I have seen many children participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge. That is a powerful message to instill in ourĀ future generation of donors and researchers and scientists and philanthropists. ALS will not be cured overnight; no disease or condition will be. It will take years – and millions of dollars – to Strike Out ALS. So we need to set an example for those who will continue the efforts.

My children may never become research scientists, but I am pretty certain they will remember the vacation they took one summer when their mom stood on a bridge in London as they video-taped me dumping ice water on my head. As we were walking off the bridge, my ten-year-old said to me, “It’s okay if you’re cold mom, because you just did something to make a difference.”

I tried to. And trying is all we can ask.

So please do not criticize the Ice Bucket Challenge. Yes, you might be tired of seeing the umpteenth video of a friend dumping ice on their head and screaming, but you never know who else might be watching, and who might be impacted by the sight, and what they might be inspired to do.

God Bless you, Pete Frates, and God Bless all who are fighting ALS.
And God Bless each one of you who has dumped ice water on your head.

ESPN Story on Pete Frates

Coach Mik Aoki on Pete Frates