The worldwide phenomenon know as the Ice Bucket Challenge is taking Viet Nam by storm. Students, IT workers and celebrities have been joining in the activity.
The so-called challenge is an activity involving dumping a bucket of ice water on someone’s head to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations to research.
It went viral on social media in July. In the US, many people participate for the ALS Association, and in Britain, many people participate for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, although some individuals have opted to donate their money from the Ice Bucket Challenge to other organisations.
The challenge dares nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of iced water poured on their heads and then nominating others to do the same. A common stipulation is that nominated participants have 24 hours to comply or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation.
In Viet Nam, the practice has been promoted via internet forums and social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Accepting a challenge from friends, seven young members of techrum.vn, an internet tech forum, recently took the challenge together. As a result, they raised VND2 million (US$95) for the Tinh Te Charity Community which assists the elderly and the needy.
Members of techrum.vn then dared members of another tech community, tinhte.vn. The activity quickly spread to others, such as sohoa, cellphones, thegioididong, and zing.
A Vietnamese mobile-phone retailer even arranged for its employees in Ha Noi and HCM City to perform the challenge together.
When asked if they would support similar charity activities, Nguyen Lac Huy, organiser of the event in Ha Noi said the company would continue as long as they helped people in need.
Besides raising funds for and awareness about ALS, money can be donated to other charity organisations in Viet Nam, including Hieu Ve Trai Tim Charity (Understanding the Heart) and Orphan Impact.
Last Sunday, showbiz singers Ho Ngoc Ha and Dam Vinh Hung were added to the list of celebrities to take up the challenge.
“I’m not trying to hop on the bandwagon. I’m doing it because it’s charitable and I hope everyone will help out,” said Ha.
The two had buckets of icy cold water poured over them in front of fans after the X Factor Viet Nam show ended.
Dinh Huong, the runner-up in the popular singing contest The Voice Viet Nam first season, even named the Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang as a nominee in her video posted on Facebook.
Nguyen Viet, an ex-student from RMIT University Viet Nam, took the challenge after watching videos posted by ALS patients telling their stories.
However, he said he was concerned that the challenge was losing its original meaning after watching many posted videos that did not even mention the disease.
He urged would-be challengers to read about ALS, donate to the cause and not to join in the event just for fun or attention.
“The water can be icy and a sudden drop of temperature body may even be dangerous,” Viet said.
Precaution is advised after The Belfast Telegraph has reported the first death linked to the challenge.
An 18-year-old Scottish youth, Cameron Lancaster, was found dead in a lake in a disused quarry after reportedly accepting a challenge and jumping into water from a cliff.
Asked for his thoughts on the innovation, a deputy minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ho Anh Tuan, told the media he supported any charitable activities.
“However, elders like me can risk their health by having icy buckets of water poured over their heads. This is not the only way to do charity works but it counts as long as you’re doing it with your heart,” he said.
It really does work!
As of last Wednesday, the ALS Association has received US$94.3 million in donations compared to $2.7 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 27).
The money came from existing donors and 2.1 million new donors.
“The ALS Association has been given a great deal of money and with that comes tremendous responsibility,” said Barbara Newhouse, president and CEO of the ALS Association.
“We are absolutely committed to transparency and will be communicating regularly with the ALS community, our donors, the media and the public about progress to invest these dollars wisely in areas that will have maximum impact on the fight against this devastating disease.”