Eric Singer, Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer of the band KISS participates in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Aug. 22, 2014 in Noblesville, Indiana. Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Let’s do the numbers: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Marketplace Staff Jul 27, 2016
Eric Singer, Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer of the band KISS participates in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Aug. 22, 2014 in Noblesville, Indiana. Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The ALS Association is celebrating two years of people dumping ice water on themselves to raise money to combat the neurodegenerative disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The nonprofit credited the money raised from the now popular Ice Bucket Challenge for the discovery of a gene associated with the disease, the Associated press reported Wednesday. The association said understanding the gene’s role will help in developing new target therapy for ALS. The disease affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. People with ALS lose the ability to control their muscles and there is no cure. 

The Ice Bucket Challenge, which involves a person dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads, went viral in 2014. People recorded videos of themselves pouring on the ice water and then challenging others to do the same to raise awareness of the disease and money. It resulted in celebrities, business leaders and public officials taking the challenge.

Let’s do the numbers on this fundraising campaign and the nonprofit behind it:

  • The challenge raised $115 million raised in an 8-week period in 2014. By the end of August 2014, the challenge was raising nearly $1 million daily. The ALS Association had done the challenge before, but viral videos pushed its efforts to the next level. At one point in the 2014 campaign, it noted it had raised $4 million, compared to $1.1 million during the same period in 2013.
  • The campaign found success among millennials thanks to social media. The average donor age went from above fifty to 35 years old
  • It costs $2 billion to develop just one new drug for treatment, according to the association. The nonprofit told The New Yorker that it has tripled its annual funding for research since the start of the challenge. It has funded more than 150 research projects and dedicated $77 million to research for a cure.
  • The most recent research development includes the association’s $2.96 million grant to fund a new drug trial. The clinical trial will incorporate biomarkers to track changes in the disease.
  • Veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS as the general population. The ALS Association has give $7.5 million to the Department of Defense for research on why this is the case.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.