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If you haven’t seen the “Ice Bucket Challenge up and down all your social media feeds, then you’ve seriously been hiding under a rock.

Everyone from college coaches to some of our favorite celebrities have participated in the challenge to help raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, most commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Donations to the ALS Association have surged since the social media trend became popular back in July, raising $41.8 million between July 29th and Aug. 21st.

Over 739,000 new donors have given money to the association, which is more than double the $19.4 million in contributions they received during the year that ended on Jan. 31, 2013. 

Lou Gehrig’s disease affects about 30,000 Americans. The disease attacks nerve cells and ultimately leads to total paralysis, although the mind remains sharp and able to function. The life expectancy of a patient diagnosed with ALS is typically between two and five years from the time they are diagnosed. The exact cause is not understood and there is no cure or treatment that stops or reverses the disease. 

The large waves of donations are pivotal for finding treatments, a cure for ALS, as well as support for those who have it. While donations are hugely important, the association also stresses that raising awareness is just as important:

“While the monetary contributions are so absolutely incredible, and we’ll be able to really make a considerable difference in moving the mission of the A.L.S. Association forward, the real fortunate part of the Ice Bucket Challenge is the amount of awareness it has raised for the A.L.S. cause in general. It puts us in a whole different ballgame to find treatments and cures for this disease,” said Carrie Munk, a spokeswoman for the A.L.S. Association.

Just a month ago, only half of Americans were aware of ALS and its effects, but now with the bucket challenge going viral, people are learning more about this life-threatening disease and helping to make a change.

SOURCE: NYT | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty 

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