Keep­ing an eye on the prize

The Compass - - OPINION - — Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­

By now you have surely seen one or been nom­i­nated for the ALS Ice Bucket Chal­lenge.

Un­doubt­edly, your news feeds have been in­un­dated with videos of ev­ery­one and their mother dump­ing a bucket of ice wa­ter over their heads in the name of Amy­otrophic lat­eral scle­ro­sis, or Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease.

ALS is a mo­tor neu­ron dis­ease char­ac­ter­ized by mus­cle spas­tic­ity, rapidly progressive weak­ness due to mus­cle at­ro­phy, dif­fi­culty in speak­ing, swal­low­ing and breath­ing.

The only pre-req­ui­site for tak­ing the chal­lenge is to do­nate to your lo­cal ALS so­ci­ety. This has not been a prob­lem. The re­sponse has had an over­whelm­ing and im­mense.

In a short pe­riod of time, more than $40 mil­lion has been do­nated in the name of the ter­ri­fy­ing dis­ease. And, that is only since the mid­dle of July. The move­ment has not been with­out its de­trac­tors. Crit­ics have taken to so­cial me­dia to voice there dis­plea­sure cit­ing peo­ple should just do­nate the money and for­get about the video.

Do you think Chris Kennedy knew what he was start­ing when he dumped that first bucket over his head?

Ei­ther way, he has jump­started a do­na­tion blitz that no one saw com­ing.

How­ever, with such a vi­ral re­sponse comes the risk of it los­ing its im­pact.

But, how can $20 mil­lion in do­na­tions run the threat of be­ing in­ef­fec­tive?

Well, at what point does the ice bucket chal­lenge be­come less about do­nat­ing to a good cause and more about gen­er­at­ing a mil­lion hits on your YouTube chan­nel or your Face­book wall?

That is the risk th­ese vi­ral cam­paigns take. Even with this, it is pos­si­ble to over­sat­u­rate the mar­ket.

The do­na­tions go away, but still you see some kid from some­where on the planet dump­ing wa­ter over their head for the sake of it. Prob­a­bly be­cause he thinks the girl in his Level I bi­ol­ogy class will take no­tice.

That is why per­spec­tive is im­por­tant in th­ese things. Peo­ple need to keep re­mind­ing oth­ers, and them­selves, that this move­ment is not about them.

It is about help­ing that fa­ther in the com­mu­nity who has trou­ble play­ing with his chil­dren be­cause he is in the early stages of the dis­ease. It is not about your Twit­ter feed. Who cares if you gained five new fol­low­ers since you up­loaded the video 15 min­utes ago?

How much did you do­nate is the bet­ter ques­tion. Be­cause, it mat­ters not how much you do­nated, just that you did.

Even if you don’t dump icy wa­ter over your head, do­nate. It is that im­por­tant.

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