You have probably seen videos on social media of your family and friends pouring a bucket of ice-cold water on their heads for charity. They have taken part in the Ice Bucket Challenge, the latest viral campaign to emerge on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other networking sites. The challenge involves dumping icy water on top of your head or donating $100 to various ALS charities. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - also known as motor neurone disease (MND) – destroys muscle, making it difficult to speak, swallow and breathe. Ice Bucket Challenge participants post a video online and invite friends to follow suit. More than 1.1 million donors in the USA have donated over $53 million since July the 29th.
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The viral campaign is giving ALS and MND charities valuable global exposure to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds. It exploits people's willingness and desire to post selfies or videos of themselves online, while feeling good about helping a charity. Communication and Media Studies professor Mark Glantz said: "You get the message directly from friends and acquaintances. It kind of appeals to the same side of people that wants to post a selfie." The challenge has even reached the President of the USA. Barack Obama decided against the dousing but said he would donate instead. Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure within three to five years from the onset of symptoms.