By Barry Janoff
July 31, 2015: One of the most impactful and effective cause-marketing campaigns of 2014 — and in recent memory — was the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised more than $220 million worldwide to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Some $115 million of it went to The ALS Assn.
Led by co-founders Pete Frates, Pat Quinn and Anthony Senerchia; and the Boston Red Sox and MLB, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is back to raise awareness and funds to fight ALS, better known as Lou Gerhig's Disease.
Beginning today (July 31) and building through August, a multi-platform effort, anchored by a social media campaign, will take the Ice Bucket Challenge back to the public.
The Red Sox and representatives of several ALS organizations will join Frates — who earlier this season was made an honorary member of the team — and Quinn in Fenway Park to launch the 2015 effort, prior to the Red Sox hosting the Tampa Bay Rays.
Throughout August, each MLB team is scheduled to host its own ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and, in the spirit of the effort, then challenge another franchise, along with two other local personalities or organizations, to participate.
Frates and The ALS Assn. said the goal is to have an Ice Bucket Challenge every August "until a cure is found."
"You may ask, 'Why do the Ice Bucket Challenge again?'" the co-founders said in a statement. "And we understand. It's easy to see it as a one-time event. But let's make it more than that. Let's make it into a movement. . . . We officially challenge you to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, this August and #EveryAugustUntilACure."
"As the sport of Lou Gehrig, baseball's longstanding participation in the fight against ALS dates back to 1939," commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "In 2015, there remains no cure to the disease that bears his name, even after the great strides of last summer's phenomenon. Pat and Pete are passionate baseball fans, and in memory of Lou Gehrig, MLB and its clubs are honored to support their vision."
MLB said it would donate $100,000 to The ALS Assn. as part of the 2015 Challenge.
MLB has been at the forefront of the "Fight to Cure ALS" for many years, working with the ALS Assn., Project ALS, ALS Therapy Development Institute, ALS Society of Canada and the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. under the banner, "4 ALS."
"Thank you to MLB and to everyone who is making it possible to transform a moment into a movement, establishing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge as an annual event to find treatments and cure for ALS," Barb Newhouse, president and CEO for The ALS Assn., said in a statement.We have to finish what started last summer: every August until there's a cure."
Last year, more than 17 million ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos were posted to Facebook, watched by 440 million people a total of 10 billion times, according to The ALS Assn.
For its efforts, The ALS Assn. was voted "2014 Grand Sports Marketer of the Year" by the readers of NYSportsJournalism.
The effort's origin is credited to Frates, a 29-year-old former captain of the Boston College baseball team, who was diagnosed with ALS in March 2012, and his family; and Quinn, a friend who also suffers from ALS.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis.
It is estimated that 30,000 people in the U.S. have ALS at any given time, with approximately 5,600 new cases diagnosed annually. More than 5,000 people die from the disease each year.
The ALS Assn. also said that U.S. veterans have almost 60% more risk of contracting ALS than civilians, especially those who serve overseas, information based on research at Harvard University that dates back to 1910.
There is no cure, and only one drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) modestly extends survival.
More information on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge can be found here.
ALS Assn. Named 2014 Grand Sports Marketer Of The Year
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