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'Ice Bucket Challenge': People dump ice water on themselves for ALS

You have probably seen it on television or heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge. According to USA Today on Tuesday, many celebrities, politicians and others are taking the challenge. The idea is easy. Take a bucket of ice water, dump it over your head, video it and post it on social media. Then challenge your friends, strangers, even celebrities to do the same within 24 hours or donate to the National ALS Association. Most people are doing both. They are taking the challenge and sending a donation.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has taken off on social media. People have posted photos and videos of themselves on Facebook and Twitter, using #IceBucketChallenge.

In just two weeks, the Ice Bucket Challenge has helped raise $4 million for the National ALS Association. More and more people are taking the challenge, and the money is rolling in. At the same time last year, the donations were amount to only $1.12 million.

The mission of ALS is to find a cure for ALS while funding the highest quality of care for people living with the disease. A lot of people aren't knowledgeable about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The Ice Bucket Challenge is making a profound difference, and the ALS has welcomed more than 70,000 new donors to the cause.

ALS is 100 percent fatal. Currently, there is only one drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ALS, which only extends survival by two to three months. The disease causes people to lose control of voluntary muscle movement, and those with the disease eventually lose their ability to eat, speak, walk, and eventually breathe.

ALS attacks the nerve cells controlling voluntary muscle movement, yet leaves the person's mental capability intact. There is no treatment and no cure for ALS. Someone diagnosed with the disease usually has 2-5 years to live, according to the ALS Association.

Some of those who have participated in the challenge include Matt Lauer, Natalie Morale, Dylan Dreyer, Willie Geist, and Hoda Kotb from the "Today" show. Michael Strahan did his challenge shirtless before challenging his "Good Morning America" co-hosts. They will do it on Friday in Central Park. Justin Timberlake, Martha Stewart, pro golfer Greg Norman, and the Kennedys have all done it. The Washington Post reported that Ethel Kennedy challenged President Obama to take the challenge, but he declined saying he would donate money to ALS.

Gov. Chris Christie's two youngest children, Bridget and Patrick, dumped a bucket of ice water on top of their father's head in a video the governor posted on Facebook Tuesday night. The governor in turn challenged three others to take the challenge: U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Jimmy Fallon and his entire band took the challenge on Tuesday night.

The Huffington Post reported that the viral challenge started when Pete Frates, a 29-year-old Massachusetts resident who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, started posting about it on social media. He was a former captain of the Boston College baseball team so he asked Boston athletes to take the challenge. From there, the local news stations began televising it, and soon celebrities and politicians and other athletes were doing it too, according to Pete's father.

Pete's story is particularly compelling because the disease rarely affects people under the age of 30. Pete is married and has a baby due next month. He is now completely disabled with no use of his extremities. He cannot speak and has a feeding tube because he can no longer swallow. He uses a computer with eye retina software to communicate.

The Ice Bucket Challenge so far has led to a 1,000% spike in donations to ALS Association. Those who have taken the challenge said it's cold, it's fun and it's contagious. Most important is that it is raising money and awareness about the disease.