So I am sure you have seen all over FaceBook the Ice Bucket Challenge benefitting ALS. So what is ALS and how can you help?
ALS, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It was first founded in 1869, but in 1939 it brought national and international attention by Lou Gehrig. He was one of the most beloved baseball players of all time, and this disease ended his career. Most commonly, ALS strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70, and as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time. The biological mechanisms that cause ALS are only partially understood. The only known cause of ALS is a mutation of a specific gene: the SOD1 gene. It can strike anyone, anytime. Physicians have limited choices for treating ALS, and the options that do exist have come into use within the last 10 years. Stem cell and gene therapy are promising areas of research. In a variety of studies, ALS mouse models are being used to develop treatments that may someday lead to similar human clinical trials. Gene therapy is one field of research where the ALS Association is concentrating support for more study. There are many ways you can help the ALS Association raise money. I have attached a link that gives you many different options: ALS Association.
But of course, the big craze right now is the Ice Bucket Challenge. Between July 29 and August 12, 2014, the ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received an astonishing $4 million in donations compared to $1.12 million during the same time period last year. Wow! The ALS Association is, of course, excited about the monetary donations, but they are just as excited about the disease getting more attention. People who have never heard of this disease before are now engaged and fighting for treatments and a cure!
My 14 year-old-son told me that he wanted to take the challenge. I told him he could do if he (1) researched the disease so that he would know what it was and how it affects people (2) challenge his friend to donate $10 in addition to taking the ice shower. I am proud of him and his friends for engaging and learning about this disease that affects too many people in our world.
Here is his video: