In the Summer of 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge gain popularity among social media users and celebrities. People challenged were given the option to post a video of themselves pouring a bucket of ice over their heads in 24 hours or donating $100 to ALS Association. Some people, such as writer Will Oremus, were unhappy with this spreadable media.
“…A lot of the participants are probably spending more money on bagged ice than on ALS research. As for “raising awareness,” few of the videos I’ve seen contain any substantive information about the disease, why the money is needed, or how it will be used. More than anything else, the ice bucket videos feel like an exercise in raising awareness of one’s own zaniness, altruism, and/or attractiveness in a wet T-shirt.”
You go Will! That is all true but if many people did not donate, why did The ALS Association raise 1.35 million dollars in two weeks? I feel like not even that many people participated in the challenge on those two weeks.
Let’s flip to something different. I was a rising sophomore during that summer and had an internship at Joint Replacement Surgeons of Indiana. One of my friends at work was a rising junior and got challenged to the Ice Bucket Challenge by her best friend. The morning of the challenge she asked me to come over after work to help with it. The whole day see debated on doing the challenge or not; she was stuck between a rock and a hard spot. Her best friend’s mom was diagnosed with ALS a few years ago and my friend was a devote Christian. This confused me considering because I did not really know about ALS so I asked her what was wrong. She responded, “Danielle, they use stem cells for their research. Tiny babies.” Oh! Of course, I later looked it up and there it was… ALS Stem Cell Research. She was half right. Researchers use both embryonic stem cells (fertilized egg) and induced pluripotent stem cells (reprogrammed adult cells). The picture below shows where the stem cells in each come from. Embryonic stem cells are surrounded in a huge controversy because the harvesting process destroys the embryo and in turn killing a potential life. Induced pluripotent stems cells have there own due to the fact that can be turned into a developed embryo. Now the research feels like a tug of war. Is it ethical?
Did you participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge? Would you have done it knowing the controversy? Is research for a disease a justifiable cause for stem cells?