The Polar Bear Plunge was created in the early 1920s as a New Year’s Day tradition in Canada. The Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club typically has up to 2,000 registered participants. This is an event generally held during the winter where participants enter a freezing cold body of water, despite the low outside temperatures. Over the years, this event has grown more popular across the world, and is usually held to raise money for Special Olympics or other charitable organizations.
The concept of dousing someone with icy cold water has been around for almost 100 years, so who would have thought that ALS Ice Bucket Challenge would have become such a national phenomenon. On July 15, 2014, golfer Chris Kennedy posted a video where he tagged and challenged his cousin in New York, whose husband has had ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, for 11 years. The idea behind this challenge is that the feeling of ice-cold water pouring over the body is said to be similar to the numbing effects of ALS.
Participants who accept this challenge must record a video of themselves stating that they have chosen to participate in raising awareness of ALS, pouring ice-cold water over their head, then identifying a challenger(s) to complete the same feat within 24 hours.
The Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on social media. Between July 29th and August 21st, public awareness and charitable donations to ALS charities soared and raised $41.8 million in donations, with more than 1.2 million video shares on Facebook and over 2.2 million mentions on Twitter. This included participation from some of the biggest names in the country: Bill Gates, Justin Timberlake, Kobe Bryant, and Oprah. My wife and I both participated in this challenge, as I’m sure many of you did.
Due to the heavy media attention of the Ice Bucket Challenge, we were able to see a true spirit of giving from people throughout the nation regardless of their age, race, wealth, or social standing. Luckily in Saline County, our community doesn’t need a viral challenge to step up to the plate and help those in need around them. Every day there are people, businesses, and community groups giving their time and effort to support those in need. They are the people are who make our community great, and we focus on them in this edition of Saline County Lifestyles. Your town. Your life. Your magazine.