If you thought the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon was slowing down, you would be in for a surprise if you visited a number of local colleges, universities and schools.
Celebrities, politicians, organizations and everyday citizens have all gotten in on the fun of dumping buckets of ice water on each other, and Washington State Community College is just one of the latest in a fundraiser that has drawn praise, criticism, excitement and annoyance all at the same time.
Both WSCC President Brad Ebersole and WSCC Foundation Executive Director Gary Williams participated in the challenge Monday morning in front of the main campus building, and plan to add to the nearly $80 million already raised for the ALS Association.
JACKIE RUNION The Marietta Times
Washington State Community College President Bradley Ebersole, left, takes on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge alongside WSCC Foundation Executive Director Gary Williams, right, on the front steps of the college’s main building Monday.
According to a release on ALSA.org Monday, the fundraiser that asks people to endure a chilly ice shower, donate and pass the challenge along, raised $79.7 million from 1.7 million donors in the past four weeks, compared to about $2.5 million raised last year during the same period.
"I'd never turn down a challenge like this," Ebersole said. "It is a worthy cause and fun to get the whole staff involved in a national challenge."
Ebersole challenged Marietta College President Joseph Bruno, Marietta City Schools Superintendent Harry Fleming, and Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, while Williams nominated Washington County Career Center Superintendent Dennis Blatt, WSCC Retention Coordinator David Scheimann and local Memorial Health surgeon Bill Cline.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis was discovered in 1869.
Baseball star and ALS-victim Lou Gehrig brought national attention to the disease in 1939.
About 30,000 Americans are affected.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
July 29-Aug. 25, 2013: About $2.5 million raised for ALSA.org
July 29-Aug. 25, 2014: About $79.7 million raised.
"I'm the director of the foundation, and because we ask people to support us, we want to support other individuals and organizations too," Williams said.
According to ALSA.org, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, and affects about 30,000 Americans.
Both WSCC officials said they plan on donating some amount of their own money to the organization.
Administrators from the Fort Frye Local school district, Marietta City Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, and Marietta College officials are among just a few that have participated in the challenge, which has gone on long enough to endure its own backlash.
"It's nice that it's helped and raised money, but I will say I'm honestly sick of hearing about it," said WSCC student Heath Givens, 21. "It's bittersweet, because I know it's helping, but it's also getting old."
Shannon Venezia, director of financial aid at WSCC, took the challenge after being asked by her brother-in-law, but took it on with a twist.
"I've got (relatives) that have hemophilia, so when I did it I made donations and dedicated it to that instead," she said. "While ALS is a great charity and it is a serious problem, there are also a lot of other charitable organizations or causes that are important, and this can help people think more about giving to them."
Criticism of the challenge has come from a wide range of areas.
The Catholic church condemned the participation in the challenge because the ALS Association participates in stem cell research, while others argued that ALS research involves animal testing.
And on top of all that, many are just afraid that the dominating spotlight the cause has received means that those who have the means to give money will direct it away from other causes that are deemed just as crucial.
"I actually didn't know anything about ALS before, and I still don't really understand the idea behind it because you can just do it and not give money," said WSCC student Jordyn Jackson, 19. "But I did actually go and look it up once it got so popular, so I think just the awareness is helpful."