Jimmy Fallon poured a bucket of ice water over his head on national television Tuesday night, which seems typical comic behavior. But then Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb did the same thing Wednesday morning on "Today." (And yes, we’re also surprised it wasn’t with wine).
The “Ice Bucket Challenge” is not just momentary reprieve from the summer heat, it's also being done in the name of a good cause: raising awareness of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.
Over the last few weeks, people all over the country have been posting videos of themselves doing the challenge and then challenging someone they know to follow suit. But in the past week, the trend has gone viral thanks to celebs including Fallon, Justin Timberlake and Martha Stewart posting their own videos.
Weeks before Elizabeth Banks did it in her bathtub, Peter Frates, a 29-year-old ALS patient in Beverly, Mass., asked his friends and family to take the challenge. The inspiration for the ice-bucket dumping was born out of Frates’ former role as captain of Boston College’s baseball team. The combination of Frates’ family and friends challenging each other and his involvement in the sports world created quite a groundswell in the Boston area. And thanks to social media, the Ice Bucket Challenge spread.
“It just took off,” said Lynn Aaronson, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the ALS Assn., who took the challenge on local news stations. “The thing we’re most excited about, before this challenge, most people did not know what ALS was, now we’re reaching so many people."
But is the boost in awareness via celebrities translating into donations for the ALS Assn.?
Aaronson said what they’ve raised has been staggering. She’s seen everything from envelopes containing kids’ allowances to an $18,000 check that she'll accept at a presentation Thursday. "Celebrity or non-celebrity, I got so many heartwarming messages," she said.
The Massachusetts ALS chapter alone has raised $394,362 since July 29, a 1,429 percent increase from the same period in 2013.
On the national scale, the association has raised $5,733,946 since July 29, compared to $1,268,424 during the same time period last year.
Donations fund research, patient care, service programs and advocacy.
Expect more shivering celebrities in the days and weeks to come, which for Aaronson would be all good. "I do believe celebrities will make a contribution, and not just make a media sensation," she said.