If life online has taught us anything, it’s that “haters gonna hate.”
Over the past couple of weeks, social media has been flooded with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a grass-roots initiative to raise research funds and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an awful disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Regular folks, celebrities and organizations have all jumped on board, dousing themselves with cold water and donating record amounts of money to the cause.
But as happens with anything that becomes popular, critics, naysayers and trolls are complaining about their news feeds being clogged with challenge videos and updates. Some have complained that the Ice Bucket Challenge is a waste of water while others call the videos narcissistic. Still more say true charity does not need a gimmick. They ignore these facts from alsa.org: “The ALS Association has received $41.8 million in donations compared to $2.1 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 21). These donations have come from existing donors and 739,275 new donors.”
More dollars, more donors. But like I said, haters gonna hate.
Just before the Ice Bucket Challenge exploded, a high school classmate posted that her brother succumbed to complications from ALS. Lorie Mellenger Triplett told me via email that Dan’s spiral “was a quick one. He was a very active, healthy man and in just over two years went from working, playing sports, active in his church to being confined to a wheelchair, being fed through a feeding tube, and on a BiPap machine to make him breathe. No movement but could feel everything. A horrible thing to happen to someone who was so active … horrible for anyone to go through.”
Dale Malone, owner of Daisy Dukes & Cowboy Boots, watched ALS claim his uncle, Bill, in 1983. Malone had been busy with his career in the hospitality industry and had been away from family for about a year. He stopped by for a visit and his uncle said, “Hi, Dale.” Malone returned the greeting then went into the house and saw his aunt, Freda. When she learned that Malone’s uncle had spoken to him, she was stunned.
“She started crying. He hadn’t said anything, he hadn’t said a word in about six months,” Malone said. “And as far as we know that was the last time that he ever spoke. … It was a very lasting impression for me, obviously.”
ALS also claimed one of Malone’s good friends, Smith-Cotton Class of ’85 graduate Mark Mason.
“It was so hard to watch him go so fast, to see him struggle and fight against it and there was nothing you could do,” Malone said.
On Thursday, after the first day of classes at Smith-Cotton High School, the administration team — Principal Wade Norton, assistant principals Robin Wyatte and Joe Doyle, and Activities Director Rob Davis — answered the challenge from the S-C baseball team. With students watching, players doused the foursome in the school parking lot. Norton said it is important for students “to see that we are willing and able to participate in what they feel is important, and I think them doing the ALS challenge showed that it was important to them so we needed to match their enthusiasm.”
Norton added that many Sedalians have been stricken with ALS, some of them in the school district family, “so it is important to support … anything that brings awareness to a cause that needs people’s attention.”
Triplett called the Ice Bucket Challenge a blessing.
“It’s not just the dumping of ice water on the head, the numbers show that people are donating, and by the millions,” she wrote. “So, yes, I believe in this cause and this challenge, no matter how long it continues. Just as long as the money keeps coming in and it helps those in need and much-needed research is continued.”
Malone is notorious for his big-hearted ways, but this cause seems more personal for him. Through the course of the Ice Bucket Challenge, he has been called out many times — now he’s answering the call, and he is hopeful local residents will join him and make a big splash Saturday night at Dukes & Boots.
“I’ve got buckets, I’ve got ice and I’ve got water. If we can take a $5 donation at the door … see if we can get 50 or 100 people to do it at the same time out on the deck at Dukes, I think that would be pretty dang cool,” he said.
Malone’s goal is to raise at least $2,000 for ALS research, and he plans to issue his challenges to scores of other bar and restaurant owners he knows nationwide — “I got this many, how much can you do?” The Dukes & Boots challenge likely will happen at about midnight.
“It’s supposed to be hot Saturday night, so it will be a nice cool down,” he said.