A challenge denied

I have been challenged.

Said dare involves the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which is sweeping the Internet like a malicious computer virus.

It is the latest “in” thing and thus a primary reason why I will not accept the challenge. I have a serious aversion to doing something simply because it’s hot and everyone else is doing it. I am not a lemming, nor do I care if I am labeled a poor sport.

Don’t get me wrong. The SONS of Thunder all accepted the challenge. The Little Black Dress and I filmed them during the act. It was fun and silly.

But I’m not sure they got the point, nor am I sure others do. What started out as a great PR stunt to raise funds for a dreaded disease is turning into a celebrity “watch how wonderful and caring I am” act. If the Kardashians made international headlines for doing the challenge (I’d guess using expensive bottled water from some virgin stream bottled by monks only in October and doing so wearing the smallest bikinis possible) then I want no part of it.

For the few of you just emerging from a three-month self-imposed cleansing from anything and everything Internet-related, let me explain the challenge.

Someone, somewhere, pours a bucket of iced water over their head. Thus the name the “Ice Bucket Challenge.” They had been challenged by someone else. So, the subject names who challenged them, pours the ice bucket over their head, screams and jumps up and down like, well, they’ve just had iced water thrown on them, and then challenges three others to do the same.

If you don’t accept the challenge, you are supposed to donate to the ALS Association, the organization trying to find a cure for what is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

I was explaining all this to the SONS, who were pestering us to take them to the BIG VIDEO GAME STORE THAT HAS THE MUST-HAVE LATEST GAME. They thought they should get a “prize” for doing the challenge.

Huh? “You are supposed to make a donation,” I pointed out. Which they immediately denied, saying they had done the challenge and thus didn’t have to donate.

And that’s part of the problem. For too many, it’s just something to do because you’ve been dared to do it.

The challenge has gone worldwide. You are not cool until you’ve done it. But many have no idea what they are really doing.

The Independent, a major British newspaper, just wrote about the latest survey there that showed more than half of our friends across the pond did not donate after doing the challenge. Fifty-three percent of those who did the challenge didn’t know what organization it was supporting.

Something is missing.

The challenge has been a phenomenal fundraiser. The ALS organization said as of this week it has raised $94.3 million. They had raised $2.3 million during the same period last year.

Unfortunately, studies are now popping up showing other major charities are going to take a hit. Basically, most people give only so much to charities. When they’ve hit whatever number they spend, they are done.

So what are groups involved in breast cancer, AIDS, leukemia, Alzheimer’s, wounded veterans, illiteracy, starving children and a host of other crippling problems going to do to top the Ice Bucket Challenge?

Don’t get me wrong. I give major kudos to ALS and those who came up with the idea. But it is turning into a freakshow about who can top who – and look better doing it.

To those of you who actually donated, good for you. But I hope we give to worthwhile charities because we want to, not because we were “challenged” or to get on the Internet.

I will say there was one awesome accepted ice bucket challenge, one that topped all the others, at least in my book. Search the Internet for “Patrick Stewart Ice Bucket Challenge.”

Now that’s class.

(John A. Winters is publisher of The Newnan Times-Herald. Contact him at john@newnan.com )

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