Obama Declines Ice Bucket Challenge, Pledges Donation To ALS Charity Instead

FILE - In this President Barack Obama outlines his fiscal policy during an address at George Washington University in Washing
FILE - In this President Barack Obama outlines his fiscal policy during an address at George Washington University in Washington. Obama said in April that he wants to do away with tax breaks to lower the rates and to reduce government borrowing. His proposal would result in $1 trillion in tax increases over the next 12 years. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

President Obama is willing to go pretty far to raise awareness for ALS. But he draws the line at dumping a bucket of ice over his head.

In recent weeks, a number of heavyweights -- including Mark Zuckerberg and Martha Stewart -- have participated in the frigid challenge. Participants are filmed willingly hurling ice over themselves in the name of ALS awareness, then nominate others to do the same within 24 hours or else donate money to an ALS charity.

On Sunday, Ethel Kennedy, the widow of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, partook in the challenge with a number of her relatives in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, and challenged Obama to get involved, too.

It was the 86-year-old's way of "welcoming" the president to the area, since the first family was vacationing in Cape Cod.

The president politely declined, but still offered to do his part.

"The president appreciates Mrs. Kennedy thinking of him for the challenge -- though his contribution to this effort will be monetary," Obama said in a statement issued through spokesman Eric Schultz, the Boston Globe reported. "The president will be making a donation to an ALS charity this week."

According to CBS DC, Obama will donate $100 to an undisclosed charity that fights ALS.

Kennedy should be pleased that her encouragement got the military's commander-in-chief to get involved on some level, since she believes that’s a sign of a successful initiative.

"A good campaign starts at the grassroots and makes its way to the very top,” she told "Our family is proud to join the wave of advocates championing increased awareness and funding for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)."

The campaign started picking up steam in Boston at the beginning of the month when friends and relatives of former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates got 200 people to do the stunt in Copley Square, the Associated Press reported.

The 29-year-old was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease in 2012, and is now paralyzed and cannot talk.

While some have criticized the challenge as being frivolous, it has lead to a spike in donations.

Contributions to the ALS Association increased by 1,000 percent during the 10-day period that ended on Aug. 7, compared to the same period a year earlier, the AP reported.

"It's just been wonderful visibility for the ALS community," Barbara Newhouse, ALS Association's national president, told the AP. "It is absolutely awesome. It's crazy, but it's awesome, and it's working."



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