George W. Bush has done it. Bill Gates has done it. So have Tom Cruise, Oprah and Justin Timberlake.
It’s the ALS “ice bucket challenge,” and it’s sweeping the nation, leaving cold, wet hair, shocked shivers and more than a few laughs in its wake.
And now Napans are getting into the act.
The viral craze features videos posted on social media of “volunteers” being doused overhead by frigid water, all in the name of raising money for ALS research and awareness. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a disorder that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
Each ice bucket dunkee also “nominates” others to accept the challenge and/or donate $100 to ALS. Millions of such videos have reportedly been posted online. Besides entertaining those watching, as of Thursday the ALS Association has received $41.8 million in donations compared to $2.1 million during the same time period last year, said a news release from the group.
“I got dunked,” said Tracy Lamb, executive director of local nonprofit Napa Emergency Women’s Services (NEWS).
A niece nominated Lamb, and “I came to work with my bucket and my ice,” prepared to answer the challenge, she said.
For assistance with the required video and ice water, Lamb turned to her team at NEWS. Their response: “Sure, we’ll dump water on you,” Lamb said with a laugh.
She chose the water torture by her own free will, said Lamb. “I could have just donated the $100, but I read an article that said (ALS) was getting a lot more awareness than it’s ever had before. I thought that was worthwhile. I will also make a donation as well,” said Lamb.
Another upside to the frozen fun? As a nonprofit director, “It definitely made me think about how social media has helped this catch fire,” and how NEWS might use social media in a similarly creative way, said Lamb.
As for her ice bath, “It was quite invigorating,” she said. “If I wasn’t awake before, certainly was after that.”
Katie Hamilton Shaffer of Feast It Forward put a drought-tolerant twist on her ice bucket challenge – she doused herself with a bucket of recycled pond water during a visit at Sullivan Vineyards.
Unlike some, Hamilton Shaffer said she was actually waiting for someone to ask her to do the dunk. Hamilton Shaffer’s company promotes charitable giving through culinary- and wine-related video episodes and handcrafted products.
“Feast it Forward is all about paying it forward,” so “I was hoping a friend would think of me.”
Nominated Wednesday morning, by 11:30 a.m. on the same day Hamilton Shaffer had already completed the challenge and posted her video. The businesswoman will also make a donation to ALS, she said.
“It’s a great idea for everybody to live a philanthropic life,” said Hamilton Shaffer. The challenge “is gimmicky but it doesn’t hurt as long as people are creating awareness for a good cause,” she said.
And that awareness seems to be spreading like wildfire. It seems like everyone has either heard of the challenge or done it themselves, “even my grandparents,” she said.
Realtor Katie Somple and her husband, Ron, put their own twist on the ice bucket challenge. Call it more of a martini challenge.
“We have these two really large martini glasses,” said Katie Somple. “We decided that we would use those as the vessel instead of an ice bucket.” And the two filled the glasses with the real thing.
“We got out our really good vodka and gin, and poured almost an entire bottle into the glass.” Dumping the giant glasses overhead, the Somples realized shortly afterwards that they’d neglected to turn on the camera.
“We had to do it again,” she said with a laugh. After a second dousing, the video was completed and posted. The couple also made a donation to ALS, she said.
“It was fun,” said Somple. “I’m just amazed at the power of social media. I wish I had thought of it for one of my charities.” What’s next? she wondered. “It’s going to be hard to top.”
Susan Duke, community investment manager of Napa Valley Vintners, accepted the challenge, standing over a baby pool so the icy water could be recycled, she noted. For Duke, her dunking, and donation, have significant meaning. She lost a good friend to ALS years ago.
“I think it’s great,” said Duke of the challenge. “You turn on the news today and everything is awful. This is goofy and makes people smile, and if it also educates people and gets people to donate, fantastic.”
Duke, who also works for a nonprofit, said she can only imagine the reaction of the ALS Association to such an unexpected surge in donations.
“It’s incredible,” she said. “I image they will be thinking ‘How do we take the windfall and make it useful?’ It is a game-changer.”
According to its website, the ALS Association’s mission includes “providing care services to assist people with ALS and their families through a network of chapters working in communities across the nation and a global research program focused on the discovery of treatments and eventually a cure for the disease.”
According to the ALS Association, “although the life expectancy of an ALS patient averages about two to five years from the time of diagnosis, many people live with quality for five years and more. More than half of all patients live more than three years after diagnosis.”