Time reported yesterday that since the start of the Ice Bucket Challenge a few short weeks ago more than $80 Million dollars has been raised with the help of over 1.7 million new donors who are participating in the #icebucketchallenge. Once again social media has had a monumental impact on raising awareness for a cause.
The reality is that this challenge has brought massive attention to ALS and hopefully an understanding about what those who have ALS go through on a daily basis. All of that is good. It is.
My best friend Karlena also had a neuromuscular disease. Not as well known as ALS, Karlena had Ataxia and it had similar effects on her body. At the age of 27 she started showing her first “symptoms” of the disease when the gate in her walk changed. She initially needed assistance with a cane and then progressed quickly to a scooter/wheelchair.
Talking became more and more difficult, as well as eating and swallowing. Towards the end of her life at the age of 35, Karlena weighed a little less than 100 pounds, was fed by a feeding tube, had a pump the size of a hockey puck installed in her abdomen that delivered pain meds to her spasming muscles and relied on others to bathe and dress her.
It was difficult to watch her continue to deteriorate. I saw it less than her family did, obviously, but it was heartbreaking. She had an amazing faith through all of it and she is missed terribly.
When I first started seeing the #icebucketchallenge come through my FB news feed, I wasn’t sure what to think. If I am honest, I was just hoping that I wouldn’t get tagged to do the challenge because there wasn’t anything appealing about dumping ice cold water over my head and making a video of it.
It was as though every other post in my feed is a video of someone else participating in the challenge.
And something started stiring in my spirit a little. I saw the picture I posted above and it stuck with me.
One of the videos I watched showed a son taking care of his mother, she reminded me of Karlena. I thought that if I was tagged maybe I could do the challenge to honor her and donate to the Ataxia foundation instead.
According to the ALS website, approximately 5600 people are diagnosed each year. And it is estimated that at any given time 30,000 Americans may have the disease.
Knowing how it was for Karlena and her family, this is heartbreaking. And my prayers go out to those families. I have such respect for the men, women and parents that take care of and watch their loved ones suffer with these types of diseases.
So I really mean no disrespect. But, I can’t help but feel that maybe we could use our social media influence and impact so many more for the greater good.
According to the facts on Water.org, 3.4 million people die each year from water-related illnesses.
780 million people lack access to clean water.
Let me ask you this, did you worry about the cleanliness of the water you drank or bathed in this morning? I didn’t….
“An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day.” water.org
These statistics are staggering to me.
And I wonder what would happen if some famous celebrity or athlete were to tweet or hashtag a challenge that would bring awareness to the overwhelming crisis of poverty that exists in our world today?
Would it become an internet sensation like the #icebucketchallenge is?
Would people rally behind it? Imagine what $80 million dollars could do in helping bring clean water wells to impoverished communities.
Please hear me on this, I don’t have any problem with people who have done, or will do the #icebucketchallenge. If you believe in the cause and want to help raise awareness, then go for it.
My son did it, people in my church and my community have done the challenge. I was nominated by dear friends whom participated in the challenge and who I love and respect. And that is OK, I do not want to come off as though I have all the answers, because I don’t.
My biggest fear in writing this post is that someone may feel as though I am trying to say that the people who suffer with ALS are not worth this…that isn’t how I feel at all. I know the pain of loss firsthand, if I could have fixed things for Karlena I would have. I guess I would just love to see such an enormous social media movement like this happen that impacts the world.
Let’s use social media and end poverty.
Let’s tweet and raise awareness for the people that don’t have access to the internet, medical research and clean water.
Let’s create a hashtag, or a challenge that brings more awareness to the millions of people that are denied the very basic of needs to survive each day.
Be aware, be in prayer, and ask how you might make a difference…in all that you do!
Like I said, I don’t have all the answers. I know that tomorrow I will get up and take a 10 minute shower. Someone in my family will probably throw away food that they don’t want to finish. I will take for granted all of the lavish things that surround me and whine when my internet is down for 2 days.
Yep, I am a huge hypocrite.
I can blog about injustice and poverty, but until I do something about it, I am all talk and no action.
So this time, instead of doing the #icebucketchallenge and donating to the ALS foundation, I am going to seek to get involved with an organization that helps provide clean water wells. I haven’t had a chance to research all of the sites yet – so if you know of one that is good please let me know.
Until the day that all of poor are helped, our hungry are fed, our thirsty are given clean water and our sick are healed we must keep fighting. Entering the fight with you.
Acts 20:35 “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Photo Credit: Postmemes.com