Why the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Matters

This summer, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been soaking daring people across the country. It's become a viral sensation, with everyone from Oprah, to Bill Gates, to Tim Cook participating in the challenge, which dares people to drop a bucket of ice water over their heads to raise funds and awareness for ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Former Boston College baseball captain and ALS patient Pete Frates and his family helped the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge go viral. His efforts caught on with Boston-area athletes and spread quickly over the Internet.

In just a few weeks, donations for ALS charities have gone up dramatically, with the ALS Association receiving $41.8 million, both from existing donors and hundreds of thousands of new contributors. The scale of the results is incredible. However, while many have supported these efforts, many have also expressed their criticism.

Some people say it is a waste of water, while others say it's a publicity stunt. Some people have criticized the campaign by associating it with "slacktivism." Why throw a bucket of ice water over your head when you can simply donate the money straight to the organization?

The truth is that this challenge has driven hundreds of thousands to join the fight against ALS. It is effective cause marketing. Those are thousands of people that would have perhaps not donated to other charities. The Ice Bucket Challenge has created awareness that few other similar campaigns have achieved, and has brought millions of dollars to fund efforts to eradicate ALS. Maaco also took on the challenge.

Lou Gehrig's disease affects 30,000 Americans. It is a disease that attacks nerve cells and ultimately leads to paralysis. Prior to the ice bucket challenge, many Americans were not aware of this crippling disease, or of its effects on patients. The typical life expectancy is three to five years. That's why the Ice Bucket Challenge is so important.

As president of Maaco, I've had the chance to witness first hand the power of charity. We have a responsibility to help others, and we're lucky to be in a position to do so. Our parent company, Driven Brands, created the Driven Brands Charitable Foundation in 2012 to raise money and awareness for issues impacting health and educational access for children. In these last couple of years we have come together for children in different ways, both at the franchise level and the corporate level. The foundation is apolitical and remains focused on raising money to help children and their families.

There is power in numbers. Between June 1 and Aug. 13, there were at least 1.2 million videos posted on Facebook and 2.2 million mentions on Twitter. This campaign has led unprecedented attention to the fight against ALS, and it should be applauded.

Collaborating for a good cause, whether you put a bucket of ice over your head or donate money, is a win-win.

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