Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.


Has it really been only eleven days or so since I saw the first bucket of ice water hit someone?

The fundraising phenomenon asks those willing to douse themselves to challenge others to do the same within 24 hours. If they don’t, they must make a donation to a certain charity. Each person who participates nominates more friends, who nominate more friends, who nominate still more friends, which explains why the trend has exploded. … The months-old movement has taken the Boston area by storm over the last 10 days, since friends and relatives of former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates used it to raise awareness about Lou Gehrig’s Disease [ALS].

Early on, I posted this on Facebook:

A pre-emptive statement: if challenged to do that ALS-awareness ice bucket challenge thing, I will be a party pooper and donate the hundred bucks. I just don’t want my cardiac event to be recorded on video.

I didn’t post it to be a spoilsport. I didn’t belittle the concept. I was thinking more along the lines of, if I want a brain freeze, I want it to be accompanied by ice cream.

And the conversation that ensued was gentle, and really didn’t imply such things. Early on, I also had wondered if there would be people out there who would dump the ice water over themselves but then not contribute. The Associated Press article quoted above does not make it sufficiently clear that the doused people then get to contribute a certain amount to charity themselves … and, well, I just wondered. The Internets are full of stories of cheaters and undeserved-attention-mongers, after all.

To my relief … it seems I shouldn’t have worried.

[Pete Frates’] parents, Nancy and John Frates … said the ice bucket challenge has done more to increase understanding about ALS than anything they’ve done over the past two years.

For those who work to raise awareness of ALS, the ice bucket challenge has been a windfall. The ALS Association’s national president, Barbara Newhouse, said donations to the national office surged during the 10-day period that ended Thursday, to about $160,000, from $14,480 during the same period a year ago. That’s not counting donations to chapter offices around the country, Newhouse said.

Excellent. Truly.

Meanwhile, something that has struck me over the last week and a half has been the great variety of images on display. One might suppose that this is among the simplest concepts: one person gets doused with a bucket of ice water.

It is. But ah ha ha! Vive la difference!

I’m sure that Famous Persons have taken part in this, but by sheer happenstance, I haven’t seen any of those videos. The video I’ve seen has all been via my Facebook news feed, and all of the ice buckets have been applied to friends or former students, or friends of same. I would guess, since I have neglected to count, I’ve seen many dozens of video clips of splash.

And, because all humans are different somehow, it would seem that all splashes are, too.

Some of my friends and colleagues and former students have worn bathing suits. Some have worn tank tops or t-shirts. The Beverly (MA) Police Department, collectively, wore full duty uniforms.

Some have doused themselves. Some have counted on others to dump the water.

Some have stood in their backyards and had the ice water dumped on them from high above, by someone on a back deck or a folding chair. Others have had water dumped on them by someone standing behind them.

Some have stood on the beach. Some have stood in their driveways.

Some have gotten hit with a gallon or so of water. Some have been splashed by a multiple-gallon cooler full.

Some have been hit with more ice cubes than ice water.

Some of them were ready for it. Some weren’t.

Some have looked as if they were desperately trying to predict when the water would arrive. Some stared straight ahead and waited without peeking behind them. One was doused on the count of three, except that instead it sounded like “one… two… SPLASH!”

Some have danced around afterward. Some have stood in place, frozen (literally and figuratively).

Some have staggered backward. Some have waddled forward. Some have nearly fallen forward.

Some of them reacted with a great whoop of laughter (or something). Some have stood in quivering silence.

Some have run around afterward in a small circle. A couple have run around in a great sweeping arc, flapping their arms.

Only one that I’ve seen, so far, has appeared to be ready to commit violence upon the bucket-holder.

Some have been splashed by friends. Some have been splashed by family members.

One was splashed by her little brother, who looked like he was having way too much fun.

One splashed his twin daughters, who squealed with shock and delight. A few days later, this same friend readied a bucket for a self-splash, and one of those same toddlers very enthusiastically filled the bucket with ice cubes before making a quick getaway.

One of my colleagues doused himself while the high school band he was teaching played their school song in the background.

One of my DMA colleagues was splashed by her father – who looked very startled when, possibly in an improvised moment, she nominated him to be one of the next ice-bucket recipients.

But no doubt all of these people have had one thing in common: they’ve been able to achieve any or all of these physical things while not been suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Nerve cells in their brains and spinal cords have not been affected. The ability of their brains to initiate and control muscle movement has not been compromised.

And one other thing they, and I, and we all, can do … is to write that check for $100, or whatever amount. And then check up on the ALS Association and see if we can do them some more favors, in the coming months and years, so as to keep this from being a flash in the pan.

Not always the best thing to hear, but in this case it’s okay: my check is, indeed, in the mail.


August 12, 2014 - Posted by | current events, Facebook, Internet, media, news, social media, technology | , , , , , , , ,

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