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Aug 19, 2014 8:42 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Ice Bucket Challege goes viral and begins conversation about ALS

You may have already seen the videos online of people getting ice dumped on their heads, all in an effort to raise money and awareness for ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. The videos online have been coined as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The ALS Association said it's raised $22.9 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during this same time period last year. It said a huge part of that is because of people's viral videos.

"I'm here to join the people bringing attention to Lou Gehrig's disease by taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge," stated entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates in his video posted on YouTube.

Lou Gehrig's, or ALS, is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, according to the ALS Association. The organization said people with the disease lose the ability to move, speak, swallow and eventually the ability to breathe, while all five senses continue to function normally.

Mary Verdin, with Verdin Marketing Agency in San Luis Obispo said, "It's really difficult to make a video go viral, but it's got you know, it's authentic, it tells a great story, it's short, you know it's less than 30 seconds long, they use humor in there, it's for a great cause, it's got that element of surprise. So, it's got all of those things that make people wanna watch it."

Verdin said the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is also unique because it spreads the message exponentially. Every person has to nominate three new people to get iced. If you accept, it is suggested that you donate at least ten dollars to the ALS awareness effort. If you're nominated, but don't accept the challenge, it's asked that you reach into your wallet and donate $100.

"It's not, you promote something and get a sale, it's not as straight forward as traditional advertising, it's about developing a relationship. And, I think this really does show the power of social media and the power of conversation and engaging with people," said Verdin.

The ALS Association calls everyone's generosity unprecedented and said the ice bucket challenge is a real game-changer for ALS.

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