On Friday, the day before my late mother’s birthday, two friends group-texted me about making a donation to the ALS Association, in memory of her name. Although they probably contributed money when I fundraised for a Walk to Defeat ALS many years ago, this is the first time they’ve donated out of nowhere. But it wasn’t totally out of nowhere, in that I knew it had something to do with the Ice Bucket Challenge.
So far, this remarkable social media-driven craze has raised more than $70 million for what has been an under-funded, under-researched death sentence. Aside from that, what do I love most about the Ice Bucket Challenge? I no longer get completely baffled looks when I use the term ALS.
“What’s your mom have?” people asked the year she was dying, and “How’d she die?” in the aftermath.
“ALS,” I said, to blank faces. “Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
“Oh, right,” they’d say, slightly less puzzled, having somehow heard those three words strung together before, knowing they meant something bad.
Now people get what ALS, those three letters, means. Except for the group of teenagers I ran into the other night.
“Ice bucket challenge?” I asked one, after another poured a bucket of water over yet another’s head, ice cubes cascading all over the sidewalk, to the merriment of all.
“My mom died of ALS, so thank you.”
After I told him, he looked so ready to cry that part of me wished I’d said nothing.