Why have Boston-area people been pouring buckets of freezing ice water on their heads? We’re glad you asked. The ice bucket challenge, as it’s called, is the latest trend on social media, mixing a good cause with some charitable self-sacrifice and a dash of peer pressure. And anyone who’s anyone in the Boston area – from the Red Sox to the Boston police – is participating. And so are we.
Thanks to everyone who joined Boston.com in the ice bucket challenge in Copley Square on Thursday afternoon. We now challenge New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Live tweets and pictures from Thursday’s Boston #IceBucketChallege event:
Success. Just before the downpour pic.twitter.com/cLBiij43PF— Shannon McMahon (@shanmcmahon_) August 7, 2014
What is the ice bucket challenge? To participate, get a bucket-full of ice water and pour it on your head while wearing regular clothing. Then, with the icy water still trickling down your back, nominate friends to take the same challenge. If they’re too chicken, the friends can donate some amount of money to a charity. Otherwise, the cycle repeats, and each nominates three more friends to take the challenge. Of course, the entire challenge should be filmed and posted to your social media platform of choice.
The challenge is essentially a do-gooders truth-or-dare, where the “truth’’ is a donation to charity, and the dare is a frigid ice bath. You can take the dare as well as donate, too.
Why are Bostonians doing this?
For Boston area ice bucket challengers, the goal is to raise money for research on ALS – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease – in honor of local inspiration Pete Frates. 29-year-old Frates played baseball at Boston College and was diagnosed with ALS two and a half years ago. Here’s a video explaining some of his struggles, and take note of his college home run hitting ability at about 4:24.
To raise awareness and money for Frates and ALS research, his former teammates and BC friends have taken up the ice bucket challenge as a call to arms. His story has spread outside of the BC friend group to inspire Boston athletes of all sports, as well as regular non-athletic Joes.
Why not just donate to ALS without the ice water?
Peer pressure certainly helps. Getting called out, often by name, on social media is a good way to push people to do something they wouldn’t otherwise.
There’s also the common act of suffering in the course of raising money for charity; think, for example, of charity marathon runs or triathlons. Combining these two, plus an inspiring cause in Frates and ALS awareness, has sent the event viral.
Who has taken the ice-bucket challenge so far?
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Most of the Boston Bruins. Former Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan. Patriots wide receiverJulian Edelman. UMass doctors. Boston mediapersonalities. Dads. News host Matt Lauer. Martha Stewart. The list goes on.
Did Bostonians invent this challenge?
No. The ice bucket challenge took off last month across the country and world, particularly centered around pro golfers raising money for their charities of choice. Outside of New England, the ice bucket challenge has been used to fundraise for domestic violence awareness charityBreak the Silenceor the Andrew Wszelaki Memorial Foundation in honor of a cancer-stricken friend, to name two quick examples. The challenge is not specificially tied to any one cause.
Is that all there is to the challenge?
Some people mix alcohol into the challenge as well, but that’s not part of the charity aspect. That’s more for the frat-boy type.
When did this all start?
It’s pretty recent. Google trends pegs the first mention in a news headline at the beginning of June.