Friday, September 5, 2014

Communication and Giving

What is with this "ice bucket challenge" for ALS? It seems like social media believes this is the only cause worthy of donating to, and it makes me mad.
Every day I am bombarded with requests to give money. Every time I go to the grocery store, the drug store, the hardware store, the pet store, I am asked at the register if I want to donate to some cause. And now my news feeds and social media are pockmarked with "ice bucket challenges" as people post pictures and videos of getting doused in ice cubes and cold water for ALS.

First off, without looking it up, I couldn't tell you anything about ALS besides a famous baseball player, Lou Gehrig, had it and had to quit playing. I also know it is a degenerative disease. That's about it.

But I can tell you about malignant melanoma. I can tell you that there are four types of melanoma and once you get to stage 3 and the cancer metastasizes, your chances of survival are a slim 20 percent. I know this because a very dear teacher I had in college lost his battle with nodular melanoma. How many of you donated to the Skin Cancer Foundation to help increase the odds of surviving?

I also know that asthma affects 26 million people in the United States, seven million of them are children. I can tell you that an asthma attack can land you in the hospital's critical care unit. An attack is frightening because it can kill you. I know this because my son has asthma, and every little cold puts us on high alert to avoid yet another trip to the ER. I also have asthma, and exercise is my trigger so when my son wants to play, I don't last more than ten minutes. How many of you donated to the American Lung Association?

Every night 600 thousand people experience homelessness for a number of reasons: loss of income, escape from domestic violence, mental illness. Nine percent of these homeless numbers are veterans. So many of us sit in our homes and think very little about the possibility of losing the roof over our heads. I make very little from my writing, so my family is essentially a one-income household - and job loss is the number one issue on our minds. How many of you donated to the American Red Cross?

Mental illness, libraries, impoverished schools, veterans' care. These are all causes worthy - TO ME - of my family's hard earned money. If you have accepted the "ice bucket challenge" and donated to ALS, I commend you. There are roughly 30,000 people living with this disease and it is an expensive disease to fight (I did look this up). Like cancer. And shouldn't cancer - in it's plethora of deadly forms - be given as much needed money as ALS? Why don't we have an "ice bucket challenge" for melanoma? If ALS is not the cause that pulls you, I hope you donate just as much to the cause that truly matters to you. Because that cause needs you. The ALS Association benefited from this challenge with over a whopping $100 million so far (compare this to the $2.6 million they received in total last year). How much has your cause received so far this year?

This "challenge" is as a social media tactic to peer pressure me into donating to a cause that, although worthwhile, doesn't hold any meaning to me. I am publicly called out to give a part of our discretionary savings to an organization I know absolutely nothing about. So I decline any invitation to take the "ice bucket challenge" because I don't like to feel pressured into giving to "the cause of the hour."  Instead, I accept the true intent of the challenge, to give to a cause important to me. In return, I call each of you out publicly, I challenge you to give what you can to the organization of your choice and then sit down with a nice cup of tea or a root beer float and thank yourself. No uncomfortable ice-cold drenching required.

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