The Ice Bucket Challenge and the power of social media.

FedEx Ice Bucket Challenge

Many of my friends called on me to take the Ice Bucket Challenge. I have yet to take them up on it and decided to give a donation and forgo the ice cold shower at least for the moment.

It’s hard to find many who are not aware of the Ice Bucket Challenge…the charitable cause that has people all over the United States, and now even abroad, dumping buckets of cold ice and water on their heads to raise awareness and funds for the ALS Association.

Everywhere in the press and all over social media the ALS challenge has captured the attention of millions of people. This is one of the most powerful examples yet of an idea that has exploded on social media and gone viral. I think however what hasn’t gone viral enough is the reason for braving the cold. And that is the disease.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brains and spinal cord. The brain loses its ability to control muscles and it is progressive and ultimately fatal. In the US, ALS is well known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the great New York Yankees baseball player, who died in 1941 at the age of 36 after being struck by the disease two years earlier.

What is amazing is the number of people who have seen the ravages of this disease first-hand, who have spoken up defending and endorsing the challenge against some pundits and critics and others who think it’s frivolous.

Frivolous?

The bottom line, a lot of good has come from this viral phenomenon.

The New York Times reported that the ALS Association has received $41.8 million in donations in just one month. That’s more than double what was raised in the full year of 2013.

The average donation has been $46.25 and the single largest donation was $100,000.

This is exactly why using social media to raise awareness and then making sure that the social “buzz” is tied to real action.

The action needed isn’t always clear on these videos.

Facebook has tallied more than 2.4 million unique videos of Ice Bucket Challenges have been uploaded.

A whopping 28 million people have posted, commented or liked these videos. I’m sure that many people have also given money but imagine if all of the 28 million people had just contributed one dollar. There’s 28 million dollars right there. More than half what’s been raised.

I believe that some people, so swept up by the fun of it, have forgotten to even mention where donations should be made, or even that they should be made.

The entertainment value of this campaign is proof that a good idea, and a great story, engages people. That’s marketing 101. But at the end of the day, there is no substitute for the pure emotion that helps to motivate behavior. The real push is for dollars that can be used to cure this incredibly insidious disease.

So take the challenge, post them, like or share the videos. Get involved. Get wet but make sure that after you click, you take action by making a donation.

A Fifth Crusade?

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You know a situation is bad when a pope calls for an armed response. Pope Francis, widely appreciated as a practical and realistic man, is not just calling for a cease-fire or negotiations. Instead, he is inviting an armed response to the terrorism of the Islamic State.

Such a call is virtually unprecedented for a pontiff in modern times, but our age is an extraordinary one and the Islamic State has no interest in a bargaining table. Instead, the Islamic State is bent on genocide and barbarism, ruthlessly exterminating anyone who opposes them.

On Sunday, Pope Francis said he held “dismay and disbelief” over what is happening in Iraq. He called the Islamic State fighters terrorists and said there was a need for “a professional, well-equipped army.” “The situation is going from bad to worse,” he warned. One can only imagine what he was thinking after ISIS published the beheading of James Foley, the CNN journalist.

Meanwhile, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad said, “There is a need of international support and a professional, well-equipped army. The situation is going from bad to worse.”

Pope Francis and Patriarch Sako are not the only clerics calling for swift and decisive action to end the genocide in Iraq. The Episcopal Vicar of Iraq, Canon Andrew White, managed to visit the town of Qaraqosh under cover and personally assess the situation in that community following Islamic State capture.

His words are chilling. “Today, Qaraqosh stands 90 per cent empty, desecrated by the gunmen of the fanatical Islamic State terror group now in control. The majority of the town’s 50,000 people have fled, fearing that, like other Christians in this region, they will be massacred.

“The militants, in a further act of sacrilege, have established their administrative posts in the abandoned churches.”

Canon White reported that one woman had her finger hacked off after she could not remove her wedding ring fast enough. A caretaker of one of White’s parish churches in the community said his youngest son, aged five, was hacked in half as he watched.

A child, just five years old, hacked in half alive, before his father. The boy happened to be named Andrew, after the vicar himself.

The atrocities are real. The genocide is real. That the press barely reports on them is absolutely baffling. However, even the most religious, peace-loving figures are recognizing that this is not a usual evil. Normally, conflicts arise because of ancient grievances and they can be talked over and hashed out. Warring factions tire of burying their sons and eventually dialogue and other pressures forces peace.

However, the Islamic State has recruited fighters from most of the world’s nations and more arrive every day. They are motivated by an aggressive interpretation of Islamic scriptures. Most notably, they are consumed with bloodlust and willing to commit and publicize every atrocity. This attracts sadistic men from across the Islamic world to their cause who commit even more atrocities.

There seems no end to this madness.

13-year-old sensation Mo’Ne Davis throws two-hit shutout at Little League World Series

Mo

Mo’Ne Davis continued her run of dominance in the opening round of the Little League World Series. A 13-year-old girl who grabbed headlines last week when she led her Philadelphia team to Williamsport, Davis steamrolled her Tennessee opponent on Friday.

Mixing a fastball that topped out around 70 mph with an effective slider, Davis needed only 70 pitches to shut out Tennessee for the complete six-inning game. She allowed two hits, struck out eight batters, and walked none.