Lebanon, Morocco, Cross-border

Taking the Plunge: Arab Celebrities and the Ice Bucket Challenge

The Ice Bucket Challenge originated with the goal of raising awareness and funds for ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a degenerative motor neurons disorder, suffered by the famous genius Stephen Hawking and thousands others. What started out as a campaign to spread information about the disease quickly became a trend. Though it has had its fair share of critics, the Ice Bucket Campaign has raised millions of dollars for ALS foundations to use for research, medical equipment and speech devices

The ALS Association was originally founded in 1985, and though they have been supported and donated to since then, there has been a definite lag in donations, partially due to the fact that ALS is classified as an “orphan disease”, as it claims fewer than 200,000 people each year. Unfortunately though, for those who do contract the disease, it’s usually a death sentence within two to five years.

Much of this information is new to many of us, and prior to the ALS #IceBucketChallenge, awareness about the disease was minimal. In that sense, the challenge definitely worked wonders, and even spread to the Middle East, where Lebanese pop stars Najwa Karam and Haifa Wehbe participated, Lebanese talk show host Zaven Kouyoumdjian, and Moroccan rapper Don Bigg.

 A once relatively unknown organization has become unpredictably successful at fundraising and will be able to do much more for its beneficiaries. Perhaps if more non-profits become creative in their fundraising campaigns, it would inspire more people to participate and share. Regardless of why, giving is giving. And that’s #peoplehelpingpeople. 

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