The viral fundraising campaign that's clogging up social media with videos of people pouring a bucket of ice water over their head is also bringing tens of millions of dollars to organizations that combat the debilitating disease known as ALS.
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The "Ice Bucket Challenge" urges people to post videos of themselves performing the stunt. They challenge friends to do the same or donate money to the ALS association. Many do both.
ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that degrades motor functioning and eventually leads to death. Although there are some treatments available, there is no cure.
The national chapter of the ALS Association has reportedly net $88.5 million already from the fundraising effort. Minnesota's chapter is seeing a spike in donations too. Executive Director Jennifer Hjelle told MPR's Morning Edition her organization received between 10 and 15 online donations in July. Already this month, they've received 1,400 online donations, which doesn't even count donations arriving by mail.
National efforts at researching treatments for ALS will also likely get a boost. Hjelle said the costs for those studies range from a couple hundred thousand dollars to many millions.
"What we're going to look at is what research projects have we wanted to fund that we really haven't been able to," Hjelle said. "We'll look at what has the best, promising research with our global coalition of researchers, and that's where we'll put our money."
The association provides advocacy and services for ALS patients, but she said the donor can designate if they want their dollars to go to research.
The state chapter also provides equipment for ALS patients, including technology that helps them communicate as they lose the ability to speak, Hjelle said the influx of money may help them get new equipment to people on the waiting list sooner.
There's been some online backlash against the fundraising campaign, with critics arguing it's silly and superficial, but Hjelle said it's putting the spotlight on a group of people who don't often get much attention.
"You definitely could call it a stunt, but what I was say is that it's working," Hjelle said. "The hope that it's bringing to people living with ALS and their families, you can't put a price tag on that."