I participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this week, and it went out over Facebook and Twitter, but I’m fortunate to have larger platform here at OnMilwaukee.com to explain why.
I’m in my early 30s. My life has been affected directly by the following:
Non-smoker’s lung cancer
Driving under the influence
I first heard about the ice bucket challenge through a cousin, who did it to raise money for VH1’s "Save The Music" campaign. He’s in college now due in large part to his high school music programs. That was pretty cool. Apparently, others attached their own charities to the challenge along the way, too.
Then, in the last month or so, the challenge was attached to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
As someone whose life has been directly affected by it, this campaign has been heartwarming and reinvigorating. So many people now know of the disease, are talking about it, and donating to its research and awareness efforts.
But, we’ve also seen the inevitable backlash to raising money for charity online. I get it. What helped ALSA.org raise millions upon millions upon millions of dollars over the last few weeks are the same avenues for snark, cynicism and skepticism.
You can’t have one internet "thing" without the other.
But I wonder though – for those trolling their friends or followers for participating, or hating on celebrities they don’t like, do you do that for all campaigns of awareness?
Is one disease or global issue more important than another? Are the hundreds of thousands of new donors to ALSA.org wrong for choosing to donate now, because they participated in an ice bucket challenge fueled by social media and not before when they likely didn't know this disease existed?
But, if you do then I can't help but think you’re often the one standing on the edges calling out the fouls while never actually stepping between the lines.
Because if you were, if you were actually invested in raising an awareness for, or funding research for, a certain cause close to your heart – whatever it may be – you’d be looking at what’s happened over the last month and say, holy $#%, that’s amazing.
You’d be impressed. You’d be proud. You’d notice how many people rallied around a disease most probably had never heard of before.
I know I am. Alzheimer’s awareness and research is also near and dear to my heart. Back in February, a famous person decided to speak up about it, and went about it in a "traditional" way – Seth Rogen went before Congress.
His jokes made the rounds for about a day or two, but what happened? Maybe some people donated. Maybe some people Googled Alzheimer’s. But I know I didn’t read about millions dollars being donated to fighting the disease.
Snark’s cool, and can be funny. The problem is so many others do it, and did it first, and likely did it better that you’re the one late to that party and end up looking crass as opposed to witty.
Cynicism is fine. It’s a tough world. I’m cynical, too. I’ve stated my unhappiness with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for "encouraging" other non-profits to stop using "for the cure" in their fundraising efforts, and for the National Football League’s sorry attempt at donating proceeds from its colored merchandise.
Skepticism is always warranted. I donated to the Red Cross when Haiti was devastated by an earthquake and was infuriated when I saw that my money was tied up in bureaucracy.
(That's just one of the reasons why I donate to (and fund raise for) to a small group of people who help provide clean water, education and medical services in that country.)
But when I look at friends who have done this challenge, those who challenged their kids – I guarantee you they had to ask what ALS was, a parent had to explain it, and why it was important to do this – that’s a net win, whether my buddies donated zero dollars or $200.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it, by any means. I really don't care about your motives, your concerns or why you're skeptical and/or cynical about this whole thing. That's you, and that's cool.
But, for those of you who do disagree with this clearly successful, fun and community-building method built largely online that has raised millions of dollars, I have a separate challenge for you:
- Donate to ALSA.org (or the Les Turner Foundation or Matt White’s CureALS efforts) and embed a copy of your donation receipt. After all, you don’t need to dump water on your head to donate, right?
- Let me know when you begin your national (if not global) awareness and fundraising campaign for what you feel is a worthy cause – in the manner in which you deem appropriate, of course – and raise millions in the span of a month.
Then, you can see how joyous those people are, how important the money really is, and how greatly you impacted everyone involved.
When you do – I won’t crap on you, your effort or how you went about it. I’ll donate, even. And applaud.
And don’t worry. I’ll wait.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Jim Owczarski
Published April 27, 2015
Tyler Thornburg has been pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers since 2012, but last year was to be his first as a full-time reliever. He started well, but was then lost for the year with an elbow injury. He is back and healthy at the start of 2015 and hopes to prove, again, that he belongs in the majors.
Published April 23, 2015
Some many call him a question mark in the Milwaukee Brewers lineup, but Khris Davis was feeling confident about himself and the team as the 2015 campaign got underway.
Published April 21, 2015
As the Milwaukee Bucks attempt to lock up a playoff berth in the final few games of the year, second-year forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is proving to many that he can be a force to be reckoned with. You see the action on the court, now, but it was the lonely hours in the gym before his family arrived from Greece last year that laid the foundation.
Published April 17, 2015
It was one year ago today that former Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl introduced Wes Edens and Marc Lasry to the city of Milwaukee as the new owners of the Bucks franchise. The pair would not, formally, be considered the owners by the league for a few weeks yet - but the press conference on April 16, 2014 signaled the start of a new era. A lot has happened in 365 days. Read on for some of the big moments.
Published April 15, 2015
Jabari Parker hasn't played a game for the Milwaukee Bucks since Dec. 15, 2014, and he may not play another one until that date later this year. Or maybe slightly before. Or after. It's the great on-court unknown for the franchise. But what if he didn't get hurt? It's possible that his injury affected more than just the team - it could've swayed public sentiment regarding the arena.
Published April 13, 2015
As the spotlight widens on the ownership of the Milwaukee Bucks and politicians around the state regarding the construction of a new Downtown arena, the Milwaukee Admirals have been left in the shadows. As of now, there are no plans to have the Admirals as a part of the new multi-purpose arena.
Published April 10, 2015
OnMilwaukee.com Sports Editor Jim Owczarski is taking off on a new adventure, leaving the Cream City after over three years. It's been fun, very memorable, and full of fun people, places, drinks and food. On his way out, he shares with you some of his favorites in all of those categories.
Published April 9, 2015
Believe it or not, we are now closer to a decade removed from Tiger Woods' last major championship than we are to his last run of sustained dominance in the game. The greats, always, lose their edge and become shadows of what they were. But Woods' decline was so sudden, the game hasn't quite yet recovered.
Published April 8, 2015
The Milwaukee Bucks aim to create a true urban plan around its new Downtown arena, and the billion dollar concept could have far reaching effects. Read on to see how some in the community feel about the project.
Published April 8, 2015
The ownership of the Milwaukee Bucks officially unveiled the images and the plans for not only a new arena, but for an entertainment district just north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center.