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People getting ice cold to raise ALS awareness

I’ve noticed over the last week that #IceBucketChallenge is all over my social networks. The idea is simple: Take a bucket of ice water, dump it over your head, record it and post the video on social media.

It’s all to raise money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to muscle weakness, loss of the use of arms and legs and difficulty speaking, breathing and swallowing.

NBC News says the challenge started with former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012. Frates can no longer speak, and he posted his own ice bucket challenge to the tune of “Ice, Ice Baby” and dared a few people to try it. A social media firestorm ensued.

The fundraising phenomenon asks those willing to douse themselves to challenge others to do the same within 24 hours. If they don’t, they must make a donation to the ALS Association. Each person who participates nominates more friends, who then nominate more friends — which explains why the trend has gone viral.

It’s amazing to see how this simple fundraising challenge has exploded across the country. Dozens of my friends have already participated, from 12 News anchor Mark Curtis who did the challenge live on the 10 p.m. news, to old friends from high school and KTAR co-workers.

There are many celebrities who have participated too, including Matt Lauer, Greg Norman, Martha Stewart and Lance Bass just to name a few.

Locally, members of the Arizona Coyotes took the challenge last week and called on other players to do the same.

According to NBC News, the ALS Association has raised $1.35 million in the same two week period where it only raised $22,000 last year. As you might imagine, the visibility of and awareness about ALS because of the #IceBucketChallenge has been incredible.

Even 86-year-old Ethel Kennedy, widow of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, got in on the action. Just before dumping the freezing bucket of water over her head, Kennedy took the opportunity to challenge President Barack Obama, who is vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard this week, to show his support for the disease.

Truth be told, I’m a wimp and I’d rather just write a check to ALS, but I admit there’s something fun and inspirational about seeing your friends doing something a little crazy and very cold for a good cause.

If an 86-year-old can take part, I think we all can too!