Are you bored by the ice bucket thing yet? There’s such a lot of it about. Celebs and randomers getting wet just to make a video and announce to the world that they’re making a donation to charity. Needless, tasteless and narcissistic.
Except… it’s not any of those things.
Until a few weeks ago, how many people were chatting about Motor Neurone Disease (ALS)? How many people were interested in rare disease? Or neuromuscular conditions? How many people were struggling to raise awareness, interest and funds for research, treatments and support?
Often compared to the #nomakeupselfie as a social media notion that went mainstream and raised much money for cancer charities, the impact of #icebucketchallenge could be much greater. It’s an opportunity for money to go to charities and conditions that are not so well known, and not generally funded. Today the ALS Association announced that they’ve received $68 MILLION more this month than in the whole of last year. Incredible stuff, impacting on often forgotten people.
One in 17 people in Europe is affected by a rare disease. You know more than 17 people.
In Northern Ireland, over 100, 000 people are affected, roughly equivalent to a population the size of Derry/ Londonderry. Because there are over 5,000 rare diseases, numbers affected by any particular condition are small, but collectively rare disease is common. We need to take opportunities, we need to work together. That’s why we created the Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership (NIRDP). That’s why we volunteer hours to build relationships, to raise awareness, to support each other.
Tomorrow evening, Belfast Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon will be helping medal winning boxer Michael Conlon complete #icebucketchallenge for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. We’ll be there, cheering them on.
We know what’s it’s like. Girl1 and Girl2 stuck their feet in a basin of iced water. They were drenched by iced water. They know why the water was iced- it’s not about the fun, but the loss of sensation. They know that the shock and helplessness they experienced was temporary and therefore fun. They know it wasn’t like that for their grandmother, Herself. They know the impact of a rare neurological condition. They remember how a vibrant, busy, fiercely independent woman became bedbound, unable to do anything for herself and barely able to communicate. We all remember. So a bit of cold water is nothing to us.
No ice for Jake – we’re not that mean!