The ALS Association is raising so much money from its now-ubiquitous ice bucket challenge that it’s more than filling the gap left by federal budget cuts that affected ALS research funding in 2011.
The U.S. organization, a non-profit group fighting ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, received $88.5 million in actual donations between July 29 and August 26, while ALS research lost $7 million in federal funding between 2010 and 2014, according to data from the National Institutes of Health. The federal support for fiscal year 2014, which doesn’t go to the ALS Association but funds ALS research, is $40 million, down from $47 million in fiscal year 2010.
The funding cuts were caused by the passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Last year, the ALS Association raised a comparatively paltry $2.6 million between July 29 and August 26. Donations have skyrocketed in the past week to an average of $9 million a day.
“The ALS Association looks forward to funding its present mission priorities of research, care services and public policy while also considering new projects to move the needle on finding treatments and a cure for the disease,” an ALS Association’s spokesperson told The Fiscal Times in an email. “When people look back in 10 and 20 years, the Ice Bucket Challenge will be seen as a real game-changer for this cause.”
Not only is the ice bucket challenge taking in huge amounts of money, but it’s being embraced by a wide array of people, including politicians and celebrities.
Last week, President George W. Bush took the ice bucket challenge. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan poured a bucket of ice on Andrea Mitchell, his wife, last week. And former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney took the ice bucket challenge this weekend, helped along by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), his former running mate.
Even Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, took the challenge, surrounded by her family.
In the challenge, people call on friends and family to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads and/or make a donation to the ALS Association to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease. Those taking the challenge post videos online and call on even more people to continue the chain.
ALS is a rare progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, eventually leading to a loss of muscle control. Death often occurs within two to five years of diagnosis, as there’s no cure currently available. Only one drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration modestly extends survival.
Currently about 30,000 Americans have ALS and an average of 15 people are newly diagnosed every day. ALS is responsible for two deaths per 100,000 people. The ALS Association uses donations to provide care services to assist people with ALS and their families and to fund research across the world.
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