Updated 22 August 2014

Why are people pouring buckets of ice over themselves?

YouTube is full of famous people pouring buckets of ice over their heads. It might seem strange but it's actually for a very good cause.

If you've spent much time on the internet lately you might have come across something called the Ice Bucket Challenge. It entails people, both famous and not-famous, pouring a bucket of ice over themselves.

The results are largely hilarious due to the fact that pouring a bucket of ice over yourself is a deeply uncomfortable thing to do. Most videos feature a large amount of shrieking, screaming or general freaking out.

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So, why are people doing this to themselves? Fortunately it isn't just one of those ridiculous phases the internet goes through every now and again (Planking and the cinnamon challenge spring to mind). Instead, it's all for a good cause, raising awareness for ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrigs disease.

The deal is that you can either pour ice over your head, or donate some money, usually $100, towards fighting ALS. Aftwerwards you can nominate three other people to do the same. Of course, even if you do go the ice bucket route you can still donate some money if you like.

Read: Is Facebook turning you into a ‘slacktivist’? 

So why are so many people opting for a bucket of ice instead of donating the money? Simple, it's all about creating awareness. Many more people are going to watch a video of Mark Zuckerberg pouring ice over his head than they are of him donating money to charity. Spreading awareness is, in the long run, much more important than a short-lived fundraising drive. 

That doesn't mean it isn't bringing in the money, though. The Verge reports that donations to the ALS Association between July 29th and August 12th totalled over $4 million, more than triple what they received for the same period last year.


Bill Gates


Justin Timberlake

Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson
 Lastly, here's a homegrown effort from Dewaldt Huysamen

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Read more:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Links to Lou Gehrig's disease
Scientists hail ALS breakthrough

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