From Steven Spielberg to Cristiano Ronaldo to Matt Lauer to probably you, it seems as if everyone has taken the Ice Bucket Challenge this summer. It’s a brilliant viral marketing campaign invented to raise awareness and money to defeat ALS, the disease that 75 years ago claimed the life of baseball giant Lou Gehrig, the extraordinary man who–though strapped with an ALS death sentence–famously considered himself the “luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
The Ice Bucket Challenge campaign began July 29. As of August 18 the ALS Association has received $15.6 million in donations compared to just $1.8 million during the same period in 2013. Not only that, but the ALS Association reports that its had 307,598 new donors to the organization during this drive. Social media has been the driver of the campaign as far-flung friends nominate each other to participate, and each participant nominates more people. More than 30,000 Americans have ALS at any given moment. The disease killed the actor David Niven, US Senator Jacob Javits, and the musicians Lead Belly and Charles Mingus–to name a few.