You might not remember everything that went down last summer, but if I mention the words "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge," chances are good it will jog a memory of you or someone you know getting doused by ice water.
The viral fundraising sensation, which hit its peak between July and August 2014, involved millions of people (some 2.4 million videos on Facebook alone were dedicated to it), including notables like Leonardo DiCaprio, Patrick Stewart, Bill Gates, former President George W. Bush, and many more. Beyond inspiring global support, it also raised tremendous awareness for ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a devastating motor neuron disease with no known cure.
Beyond all expectations, the phenomenon ended up generating an estimated $220 million worldwide for research and support for those suffering from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, after the famous baseball player. That number is even more incredible when you consider that the summer prior, the ALS Association raised less than $3 million.
That huge difference in donations is now poised to make an impact in the search for a cure to ALS. Over the last year, the ALS Association has been busy determining what grants to dole out, so far earmarking about $47 million of the funds, including $33.3 million that is going towards research. As one as Johns Hopkins University graduate student explained in a recent Reddit AMA, this surge in funding is a game-changer.
"I mainly wanted to do this AMA because I remember reading a lot of stories about people complaining that the ice bucket challenge was a waste and that scientists weren’t using the money to do research, etc," wrote Jonathan Ling. "I assure you that this is absolutely false. All of your donations have been amazingly helpful and we have been working tirelessly to find a cure. With the amount of money that the ice bucket challenge raised, I feel that there’s a lot of hope and optimism now for real, meaningful therapies. After all, the best medicines come from a full understanding of a disease and without the financial stability to do high risk, high reward research, none of this would be possible!"
Earlier this month, the ALS Association launched a 2015 version of the challenge with intentions to make it an annual event "this August, and every August, until there's a cure (for ALS)."