Why I Won’t Accept the Ice Bucket Challenge


I do not accept the Ice Bucket Challenge, and I nominate no one.

You’ve heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge, of course. (If you haven’twell, maybe you’ve been rereading Harry Potter exclusively for the last month. In that case, carry on!) And chances are, you’ve taken a deliberate action as a result of the challenge, whether it’s dousing, donating or dodging.

Disclaimer: I have no qualms with anyone who has accepted the challenge, or who hasn’t. If you’ve made a video and donated money, or if you’ve done none of those things, there is no judgment from this side of the keyboard. Furthermore, congrats go to the people at the ALS Association who had a hand in this campaign, which as of Aug. 24 has raised $70 million.

Me? My nomination came Monday. Not this Monday, mind you. Last Monday. So much for “you have 24 hours.”

First, there was the flush of pride to be invited to something that’s so quickly taking over the internets. A fraternity of sorts. To be in the company of Will Smith, Lady Gaga and Kermit the Frog is quite an honor.

I bought a bag of ice, which is now taking up valuable ice cream space in my freezer. My wife explained to my 3-year-old that yes, I was doing this by choice and no, I would not be too cold. (He really was concerned.) I went so far as to write a script for my video and accompanying social media posts. OK, maybe I wrote a couple versions.

Unlike all those other videos, my contribution to the cause would be perfect. I agonized over details. Yes, AGONIZED. The lighting would be just right. My words would be just right. The donation amount would be just rightenough to make a difference but not so much that it would bust the budget. I would nominate just the right people.

But really, all this agonizing was a stall tactic. There had to be something else going on here, some other reason why I hadn’t yet taken the plunge. I just hadn’t put my finger on it.

And so the waffling continued. I’m talking epic waffling. I was gonna do it, and then I wasn’t. Was. Wasn’t. Was. Wasn’t. Was.

Dude, it’s an 18-second video featuring you, a bucket, water and some ice. WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG?!

It came down to how I answered a few key questions.

Have I donated to the ALS Association before?

No. Nothing against the group. It’s just not on my radar. Or it wasn’t. I have no personal connection to the disease (that I know of).

Would I donate to the ALS Association if I weren’t called out to do so?

Probably not.

Is it really that simple?


With great success comes great scrutiny, and the ALS Association has found itself under a big magnifying glass. I’ve seen the posts from my friends and others. I get it. I do.

  • Is the ALS Association the best organization to receive this money?
  • Why donate to a group with ties to embryonic stem cell research?
  • How can I dump a bucket of perfectly clean water on my head when so many people in this world go without?
  • Can’t we focus our attention on more pressing matters facing our society?

All these questions led me to a new question.

Are there any other groups I’d rather give to?

Yes. YES!

Epiphany. THIS is why I’ve been agonizing. Why I’ve been waffling. Why I’ve taken 10 days to NOT accept the Ice Bucket Challenge.

If I’m going to give money to another group, why in the world would I dump ice water on my head? (For that matter, even if I’m going to give to the ALS Association, why would I dump ice water on my head?)

Matt, after all this, please tell me you have a point.

I do. In the spirit of the Ice Bucket Challenge, my family has made $25 donations to two charities that are especially near and dear to us: Best Friends Animal Society and Arizona Humane Society. No water. No bucket. No video. Just good money going to a couple good causes.

Now, does anybody want a big bag of ice?

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