Ice Bucket Challenge

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Always up for a Dare, Handelsblatt Publisher Gets Wet for ALS Cure

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Handelsblatt publisher joins a wave of global celebrities who have doused themselves with ice water to help the victims of ALS, a nervous system disorder.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The Ice Bucket Challenge originated in the United States.
    • Celebrities such as former President George W. Bush and Bill Gates have participated.
    • German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also been nominated to take the challenge.
  • Audio

    Audio

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The publisher of Germany’s leading financial newspaper Handelsblatt accepted the #ALSIceBucketChallenge and poured a tub of ice water over himself as he took part in the charitable social media act on Sunday.

Gabor Steingart said he decided to take the challenge after being nominated by Miriam Meckel, the new editor-in-chief of his company’s weekly magazine, Wirtschaftswoche.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is an initiative to raise money and awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a neurodegenerative disease, which damages the brain and spinal chord, resulting in progressive paralysis.

Nominees have a choice. They can accept the challenge and donate €8 ($10) to the ALS Association, or reject the offer and donate €76 ($100).  The challenge originated in the United States with a series of sport celebrities in golf and baseball starting to perform the ice bucket challenge on air, including golfer Chris Kennedy and former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011.

The hash tag #ALSIceBucketChallenge spread on social media around the world, with celebrities such as the Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, actress Kate Hudson, former president George W. Bush and lifestyle expert Martha Stewart taking part and posting their videos online.

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Pouring cold water over your head for a good cause is older than the ALS challenge. A number of people, mainly in the United States, have tried to raise money for all sorts of good causes by showering themselves or jumping in an ice cold bucket.

But the recent challenge managed to get worldwide attention via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and made millions of people aware of ALS – a disease previously unknown to many.

The ALS Association has said it has received €53 million in donations since late July compared to €2 million during the same time period last year. Contributions will support the association’s mission to find a cure for ALS and also pay for the care that people living with the disease need.

“We have never seen anything like this in the history of the disease,” wrote Barbara Newhouse, the president and chief executive of The ALS Association. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the level of compassion, generosity and sense of humor that people are exhibiting as they take part in this impactful viral initiative.”

On Facebook, the #ALSIceBucketChallenge site received enormous attention, with participants opting to both take on the challenge and donate. Some critics say, the challenge attracted some people who used the attention for their own purposes.

The head of Irish discount carrier Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, mentioned that his airline outperforms the competition in price after he poured a bucket of cold water over his head instead of mentioning ALS. The founders of the German online clothing retailer Zalando used ice buckets with their brand during their video.

After Mr. Steingart, the Handelsblatt publisher, got soaked in chilly water, he picked three others to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: The publisher of the German national daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Günther Nonnenmacher, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen and Deutsche Bank co-chief Anshu Jain.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also been nominated by a Turkish deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Aylin Nazlıaka, who also joined the global trend recently and poured cold water over her head.

Whether Ms. Merkel or any of Mr. Steingart’s nominees accept the challenge remains to be seen.

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