Here’s How the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Actually Started [Video]

The story behind the internet phenomenon, which helped to change the world for better.

Ice Bucket Challenge is the newest and hottest social media craze that had involved many celebrities and tech leaders, sportsmen and businessmen, and even ordinary people to draw attention to the Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

The essence of the challenge is that the nominated person should either dump a bucket of ice cold water over his head within 24 hours or donate $100 to ALS Association. Then the person passes the challenge to someone else.

But the big question is: how did a campaign that has drawn in celebrities from Oprah and LeBron James to Bill Gates and Tim Cook start?

Actually, in the beginning the Ice Bucket Challenge had nothing to do with the ALS Association. It was just a charity challenge, when the participant could choose any organization he or she prefers to donate to.

It started with Chris Kennedy, a professional golfer from Saratosa, Florida, who accepted the challenge from his friend on July 14, when he recorded video. The 26-year-old sportsman then called out three others, among which was his wife’s cousin, Jeanette Senerchia, whose husband, Anthony, is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – more commonly known as ALS.

“My cousin Chris sent me a message telling me to check my Facebook,” Jeanette Senerchia told TIME. “He nominated me as a joke because we bust each other’s chops. I was just going to donate money.”

However, she did the stunt and posted the video on Facebook retaining a connection to ALS with a donation to the non-profit organization that she and Anthony started to help underprivileged families who are suffering from the disease.

“Everybody came together in our community,” Senerchia beams. “We couldn’t keep up with all the videos.”

One of Jeanette’s friends – Pat Quinn, of Yonkers, N.Y. – saw it online and joined in for fun and his social network, which included Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball captain, who in turn passed it on to various athletes and celebrities. He was the one who passed the challenge on to various athletes and celebrities.

As a result, the ALS Association managed to raise some $15.6 million in contributions to the group and its national affiliates since July 29 — compared with less than $50,000 in the same period last year.

“The real story here is that donations are up 766 percent, which is crazy,” Kennedy says. “It’s been a little overwhelming, but obviously we’re all very proud of how it started and what it’s gotten to. It’s going to fund some research and help families. Hopefully it will help a lot of people. It’s been crazy, but in a good way.”

The $12 million figure represents more than half of the funds raised in all of 2012, when the national organization brought in $19 million in contributions, says the TIME.

Celebrities who have joined the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge include Justin Timberlake, Carmelo Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Bill Gates, Jimmy Fallon, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and “Guardians of the Galaxy” star Chris Pratt.

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