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There's a reason celebrities keep pouring buckets of ice over their heads.

By THE GLOW TEAM

There’s an ice habit sweeping Hollywood – and it’s got absolutely nothing to do with recreational drug use.

Over the past week, social media has been flooded with videos of celebrities like Oprah, Taylor Swift, Girls’ Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke, Justins (Timberlake and Bieber), Jimmy Fallon and even tech kings Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates pouring buckets of ice water over their heads, then nominating others to do the same.

It’s called the Ice Bucket Challenge. Here’s Taylor Swift and actress Jamie King getting involved:

And Lena Dunham, who accepted their challenge:

Even Oprah’s getting involved.

And here’s Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner (who – if there was a winner – would win).

Good thing it’s summer up in the northern hemisphere, because the thought of dousing ourselves in iced water in the depths of winter is nothing short of horrifying.

Although these famous volunteers, and thousands of others around the US and UK have all tackled the ice bucket challenge in different ways, they all have one thing in common: it’s all for health.

No, tipping ice over your head isn’t a new-fangled health fad – it’s a digital campaign to raise funds and awareness for a neurodegenerative disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Never heard of it? We hadn’t either – until we learned ALS goes by a completely different, and far more recognisable, name here in Australia: motor neurone disease.

The ice bucket challenge was launched in the US earlier this year by the family and friends of Pete Frates, a former baseball player who is living with ALS. Despite various articles decrying the craze as narcissism dressed up as altruism, it prompted donations to the ALS Association in the US to quadruple from their levels a year ago, in just a few weeks.

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The challenge has since spread to the UK and could well take off here. So before you get icy, it’s worth knowing a bit about the cause and where you can donate:

What is ALS/motor neurone disease?

According to MND Australia, motor neurone disease refers to a group of diseases that cause the nerve cells which control the muscles responsible for vital functions in the body to degenerate and die:

“Motor function is controlled by the upper motor neurones in the brain that descend to the spinal cord; these neurones activate lower motor neurones. The lower motor neurones exit the spinal cord and directly activate muscles. With no nerves to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste. MND can affect a person’s ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe.”

ALS is the most common form of MND in adults.

Sadly, MND is progressive and terminal, and there’s no known cure of effective treatment for it. Every day in Australia two people pass away from MND, and two people are diagnosed.

Where can I donate?

Regardless of whether or not you decide to saturate yourself with iced water, you can still donate money to help improve the lives of people living with MND, and their loved ones, through research, advocacy and care. Visit MND Australia to find out exactly how public contributions are used, and to donate.

This post was previously published on The Glow and has been republished with full permission.

Would you try the Ice Bucket Challenge?  

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