The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Why Did It Go Viral?

Have you been challenged to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge yet and did you complete it? The media is swamped with videos of groups and individuals dumping ice water over themselves. Why did this event catch on like it did? Over 3 million donors gave during this challenge and, according to the ALS Association, they have collected over 100.9 million dollars in donations compared with 2.8 million at this time last year. Amazing response to say the least. Why??? Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is not the leading cause of death in the United States. It’s not even in the top ten. Why this cause? What prompted people to do this?

Here are some of the reasons that I believe it has been such a success.

1) This movement struck a chord with the public that allowed them to be part of something important. It created/is creating a greater awareness of this particular disease and with that awareness comes understanding for those afflicted with ALS and an increased likelihood of money being donated to help find a cure.

2) The act of dumping a bucket full of icy water is silly. This allows people to have fun with it and get creative.

3) It has a direct challenge to specific people. It’s a little like when you learn CPR. You never just call out, “Someone call 911!” Everyone assumes that someone else will act and nobody does. You need to say, “You! (pointing your finger at a particular person) Call 911!” They now know that they have been chosen to act. This is not a call out to the masses. It’s a call to “You. (state their name)”

4) Social media allows ideas to spread like a, oh, I don’t know… a virus, maybe! You do the challenge and call out your friends. Your friends do the challenge and call out their friends. Your friends’ friends do the challenge, etc.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has all of the elements to make it the successful campaign that it is.

Why am I writing about this in a fitness business blog? We, as fitness professionals, are in the business of helping people become more healthy. It is within our scope of interest to champion a health issue, align ourselves with a charity. How can we use the elements of the ALS Challenge to bring light to the charity of our choice? One thing that I’ve done in the past is run Zombie Boot Camps on Halloween to benefit the local food pantry. Now I need to think of how I can go bigger with it (and I have an idea…).

Are you doing something to benefit some cause? Let us know about it in the comments below.

By the way, if you would like to donate to the ALS Association, click here.

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