The Bucket Challenge: Its Initiator and the Purpose

Ice-bucketThe Bucket Challenge or ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a contest that involves the pouring of ice water on one’s head with the intention of promoting awareness of the ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) disease and pooling of resources – in terms of donations – to encourage further research on the disease.

Who initiated the Bucket Challenge?

The main origin of the concept of pouring water on one’s head to raise money for charity is unclear. However, Chris Kennedy – a professional golfer – pioneered the shifting of focus from simply pouring water on oneself for charity to pouring water on oneself to raise funds for ALS research.

In the month of July 2014, Kennedy recorded himself taking an Ice Bucket Challenge. Later, he called out three of his friends, including his cousin’s wife, Jeanette Sernachia, her husband suffers from ALS. Kennedy donated $100 to help combat the incurable disease.

Sernachia, on the other hand, posted her video – after completing the challenge – on Facebook. She maintained a connection to ALS after donating to the non-profit organization, which she and her husband, Anthony, has founded to help the underprivileged families that were battling the disease. Everybody around Pelham N.Y. neighbourhood shortly followed suit: parents, kids, families, etc.

Arianna, Kennedy’s wife, set up a YouTube channel that collected approximately 400 videos within a week. They all worked and made donations with one aim in mind – that of increasing awareness of ALS. Shortly afterwards, the videos clogged Pat Quinn’s (an ALS patient and well-connected member of the ALS community) social media pages. He reacted by passing the video to Pete Frates – a previous Boston College Baseball Captain. He gave it to a few athletes and celebrities.

Soon after, the Bucket Campaign officially grew into the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge”. That is how everyone else took to dumping icy water on their heads as an act of charity: Tiger Woods, Justin Bieber, LeBron James, Oprah and many other celebrities. The under-funded ALS campaign had now evolved into the most rapidly growing charitable movement globally.

The Main Purpose of the Bucket Campaign

The campaign serves many purposes.

First, the primary aim of the Bucket challenge is to increase awareness of the existence of ALS. After the Bucket Challenge went viral – particularly in America – in mid 2014, politicians, athletes, celebrities and the average Americans, began uploading their videos online participating in the event. The New York Times stated that, people shared over 1.2 million videos online (Facebook), that is, from June 1 to August 13. The same report also claims that, people mentioned the campaign more than 2.2 million times on Twitter from the 29th of July to the 17th of August. The primary aim of the event was to spread the message out that ALS exists and is real.

Secondly, according to Obar, the Campaign also aims at maintaining the attention that the Ice Bucket Challenge receives. Obar believes that the Bucket challenge thrives out of the attention that it receives from people. Without this attention, the entire concept may die.

Dixon believes that, a course that has captured people’s attention can only remain relevant if regular communication and updates are made. Currie Munk, an ALS spokesperson, stated that the number of people affected by the disease was not important; the important thing was raising awareness about the existence of the disease. She also claimed that when people start opening up about the disease, they would realize that someone connected to them was a victim of the disease.

Lastly, the campaign raises funds to combat the ALS disease. Until the advent of the Ice Bucket Challenge, people suffering from ALS lacked the attention of the public. However, after its inception, funds set aside to combat ALS sharply increased.

Statistics from the ALS Association indicate that people who poured cold water over their heads donated $15.6 million to the association between the 29th of July and the 18th of August – an increment of 767% when compared to the same time the previous year. The funding came from 307,598 new donors and individuals who had previously been making donations to the organization.

In a closing remark, it is not clear where or who exactly started the Ice Bucket Challenge. However, Chris Kennedy – a pro golfer – started the Ice Bucket Campaign with the aim of raising funds towards helping ALS victims. The Bucket Challenge has helped many ALS patients gain access to the medical services that they would not have access to.


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