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Reasons so many people are taking the 'Ice Bucket Challenge'

Whether you have been challenged, or whether you have donated, you more than likely know about the the Ice Bucket Challenge and have seen the videos people have posted. The challenge began a few weeks ago, and it is still going strong. Why has the challenge become so widespread not only in the United States, but in other countries as well?

The Ice Bucket Challenge was created by former Division 1 college athlete Pete Frates to raise awareness of ALS. Frates, 29, has lived with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis since 2012. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerves in the brain and spinal cord, often leaving its victims paralyzes while their mind is still alert. Life expectancy from time of diagnosis is two to five years.

Unlike many similar challenges that fall flat on their face, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral for several reasons. It has taken on a life of its own with billionaires, celebrities, politicians, athletes, enterpreneurs, and others participating. Donations have increased up to five times what they were at the same time last year, said Stephanie Dufner, communications manager for the ALS Association.

Here are a few reasons pouring ice over your own head has become so popular. The campaign is audience-driven. Once a person does it, he or she nominates up to three others to take the challenge. People often respond to "dares" from friends which is more powerful than an invitation coming from a foundation or association. Word of mouth is good in advertising, and in this case it is good to spread a challenge.

Community participation in the Ice Bucket Challenge and the idea of posting a video of it makes it very appealing. The community is encouraged to share creative photos which makes it a little competitive. Some people come up with ideas to outdo their friends.

The sharing component is built in. Not only does the ALS challenge rely on the community to spread the word, it also includes an organic growth feature that has helped it take off. All participants nominate several other people to take the challenge. They’re not just doing it themselves, they’re including their friends in the challenge.

The reason for the challenge pulls at the hearts of those who are participating. Either they know someone with the disease or in the back of their minds, they think that it could happen to them or to their loved ones.

This is one that ordinary people can have in common with celebrities. Ordinary people might not be rich, but they too can do what millionaires and billionaires are doing. Celebrities like Martha Stewart, Matt Lauer, Michael Strahan, Justin Timberlake and politicians like Chris Christie, former president George W. Bush and Bill Clinton took the challenge. For a moment, the average person is on the same page high-profile people.

The campaign is time-sensitive. The challenge must be completed within 24-hour of being nominated. That forces nominees to act almost as soon as they’re nominated, which means they won’t forget or procrastinate, so the campaign spreads more quickly. The unique spin on the ALS challenge is the deadline is different for every participant. It varies depending on when a person is nominated.

The challenge is something anyone can do. A person doesn't have to be a professional at dumping ice water or posting videos online. Amateurs and professionals alike are taking the challenge.

Whenever you add celebrities to the mix of any challenge, you are well on your way. Celebrities have many fans and friends on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagrams accounts. For instance, once Justin Bieber completed his challenge, he nominated his Beliebers #BELIEBERS, and he has millions.

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