Cold for a good cause: ALS charities applaud 'Ice Bucket Challen - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Cold for a good cause: ALS charities applaud 'Ice Bucket Challenge'

WAFF Meteorologist Lauren Jones participated in the challenge. (Source: Facebook) WAFF Meteorologist Lauren Jones participated in the challenge. (Source: Facebook)

A social media awareness and charitable phenomenon has chilled thousands of people to the bone.

Countless numbers of people, from celebrities to schoolteachers, military members and civilians alike, have been taping themselves being doused with gallons of ice-cold water, in support of those suffering from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

ALS attacks the body's nervous system and spinal cord. The ALS Association said when the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to control muscle movements is lost. Patients in the latter stages of the disease may become completely paralyzed. This condition is not contagious, like the common cold; ALS is an inherited disease. 

The premise of the awareness campaign is simple: if you are "called out," you have 24 hours to either videotape yourself giving yourself the iciest of showers, or donate $100 to an ALS charity. Many have done both, having a fun time for a good cause. Millions of dollars have been contributed to research charities like the ALS Association, who told the New York Times they received more than $17 million in donations since July 29 - ten times what they reported in the same time period last year.

Cassie Barber, Executive Director of the Alabama Chapter of the ALSA, said she has received dozens of calls from people asking how they could help after watching Ice Bucket Challenge videos online.

"This whole Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon is such a gift to the ALS community because now everybody is aware," Barber said, who described the disease as "being imprisoned within your own body."

Many people diagnosed with ALS have been just as pleased as the charities to see awareness of the disease thrust into the spotlight.

Rick Issacs was diagnosed with ALS just over six months ago. He said the disease has already claimed him of the use of one arm.

"I laugh when I see every one of them," Issacs said. "I cry when I see some of them. It's just a wonderful thing."

Isaacs said the money being donated as a result of this viral web campaign may not save him - ALS is currently considered 100-percent fatal - but he has hopes for the future.

"If the people go out and take a look and see how devastating it is, maybe we can keep this ball rolling and get the kind of money we need to raise to get a cure," he said. "I'm going to do my best to stay as long as possible and help as many people as I can."

You can learn more about the latest in the ongoing Ice Bucket Challenge, and donate directly to the cause, at the ALSA website.

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