Hanna’s Harangues: Buckets of Empty Gestures

Participants of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge fail to recognize its original intentions.


Photo Courtesy of ELISE AMENDOLA / AP

Hanna Kang, Editorial Editor

“Okay, so my friend so-and-so nominated me to participate in this challenge.” Sounds familiar? “I’m doing this to raise awareness for ALS.” What about this? Ever since Day 1, the whole deal with the ice bucket challenge has been driving me insane.

I stumbled upon this “frigid” awareness campaign this summer when I was scrolling down the list of videos posted daily on Fox News. Mildly interested, I did some additional research on the challenge. Here are some of things I learned: ALS stands for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates helped the Ice Bucket Challenge go viral, and that the countless buckets of ice water dumped over people’s heads are creating a bad image while California is in a terrible drought.

As much as I sound like a tree-hugger on that last note, I am not an environmentalist of any sort. However, when people, especially teenagers, waste precious resources without a definite cause (at least for themselves), it becomes a problem. The ice bucket challenge, I must admit, is quite a remarkable idea, having already raked in close to $95 million. However, getting drenched with an icy torrent of water has become more of a simple trend than a worthy cause.

High school students are prone to follow trend after trend without giving much thought to why they are doing it. We have all seen and shaken our heads at so many senseless and sometimes dangerous teen fads, such as the cinnamon challenge, smoking Smarties, and most recently, beezin. Honestly speaking, I don’t care what happens to the juveniles who seem to spend their whole teenage life chasing after the latest trends, trying to keep up with what’s “in.” However, when I see a group of otherwise sensible young people taking part in those same trends, it breaks my heart.

A large number of students at Diamond Bar High have participated in the ice bucket challenge, and I wonder how many of them, off the top of their head, can tell me what ALS stands for. I wonder how many of them, know who Lou Gehrig is (a baseball player who died of the disease in 1941). I wonder how many of them actually care. And lastly, I seriously wonder how many of them actually did some research before participating in the challenge and posting a video of it.

I remember bumping into a friend, a devout Christian, who informed me that he had participated in the ice bucket challenge and had even donated a small amount of money. I was appalled. Was he not aware of the fact that the ALS Association sends a generous sum of money to a research group that uses embryonic stem cells and cells harvested from aborted fetuses in hopes for a cure?

I am in no way trying to attack the association, the challenge, or the serious participants. If you have done enough research and have established that you genuinely support the cause, you have my cordial invitation to douse yourself in freezing water. This is all I ask: If a friend nominates you and you think, “Well, she’s my best friend, so yeah, I’ll do it,”— DON’T DO IT. Do yourself a favor and go read a good book. I mean, who wants to take ice-cold showers anyway?