Why are Zuckerberg, Nadella and Gates pouring ice-cold water on themselves?


The Ice Bucket challenge is making waves across social media for the noble cause that it is helping raise awareness and funds for. Celebrities like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft chairman  Bill Gates, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Google founders Larry Page and  Sergey Brin and many more are rising up to the challenge and posting videos of dumping a bucket of ice water on  themselves.

Bill Gates recently took up the open challenge from Mark Zuckerberg and has passed it on to Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Ryan Seacrest and  Chris Anderson from TED.

The Challenge

Rules: The Participant has to announce their acceptance of the challenge followed by pouring ice into a bucket of water. The bucket is then to be lifted overhead and poured over the participant’s head. After completion, the participant has the option to extend the challenge and to donate $10 to the ALS charity of their choice. Alternatively, they can decline the challenge, in which case they are encouraged to donate $100. Those challenged have 24 hours to respond to it, failing which they have to donate $100.

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As of now almost everybody who has been challenged has put their right foot forward and honoured the challenge.

US President Barak Obama decided not to take up the challenge, but instead willingly donated $100 as per the stipulation.


The Ice Bucket Challenge originated in Massachusetts when a former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, decided to challenge himself and take it up. He posted the video on twitter. Frates went on to extend the challenge to some Boston Athletes, who accepted it.

The first recorded ice bucket challenge for ALS was by Jeanette Hane Senerchia of Pelham, New York on July 16th, 2014 after she was challenged by Chris Kennedy on Facebook. The two set out to raise awareness for ALS on behalf of Anthony Senerchia Jr., who has ALS. Senerchia, Quinn and Frates are directly responsible for the tremendous increase in awareness and donations for ALS.

What is ALS?

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” The disease causes progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, according to The ALS Association.

It is characterised by muscle spasticity, rapidly progressive weakness, difficulty in speaking, swallowing and breathing. ALS is the most common of the five motor neuron diseases.

Has the Ice Bucket challenge succeeded in its cause?

Yes. The organization’s national office has received $5.5 million for Lou Gehrig’s disease research since July 29, compared to $32,000 in the same period last year. With more challenges and donations piling up, it is a grand success.

The possible downsides

Though the contributions to the ALS foundation have increased manifold, many are questioning whether most people even know the symptoms and complications involved with ALS or if the main motive behind the initiative has taken a backseat and people are just doing it to be a part of this viral phenomenon.

Another train of thought that most people have is the amount of clean potable, drinkable water that has been wasted on this process which could have been put to better use. In a lot of regions where getting access to clean drinking water is a major issue, the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ would seem like a cruel joke.

A similar challenge for Indians?

There are multiple untreatable diseases that affect our own countrymen, old age homes, ashrams, schools, NGOs and hospitals that are low on funds. We as Indians should participate in challenges like the ‘Ice Bucket challenge’ and also look to solve and raise awareness of problems that we otherwise turn a blind eye to in our own backyards, in a more innovative and eco friendly manner.

What causes can you think of where Indians can raise awareness in a similar way?


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About the author

Harshith has been tracking the Indian startup ecosystem for about two years. You may find him at startup events, sticking his nose in other people's business, looking for his 'next big scoop'. An alumnus of Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal, he is a keyboard warrior and couch potato. You can connect wih him on LinkedIn:, Twitter: @HarshithMallya or FB-

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