In August of 2014, Niall, Louis, Harry, and Liam took part in the ice bucket challenge. The ice bucket challenge was the most successful media-driven fundraising event of all times, leading to the donation of over $115 million for the research and treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Geihrig’s Disease. ALS is a neurodegenerative condition leading to the loss of nerve cells that innervate the muscle. People affected by ALS become paralyzed and eventually succumb to the disease. There is currently no cure for ALS.
The ice bucket challenge consisted in pouring a bucket of ice cold water on one’s head, filming the event and posting it on social media, while challenging a minimum of other 3 people to do the same. Participants of the ice bucket challenge had also to make a donation for ALS research/treatment. Some of the participants, such as President Obama, chose to donate without performing the challenge. The phenomenon led to a surge in donations especially from younger people. Another positive effect of the ice bucket challenge was that it raised awareness of the disease, which led to further ice-bucket-challenge-unrelated donations.
The origin of the ice bucket challenge is not clear, but it appears to have started to receive media attention when personalities of the Golf Channel program Morning Drive, performed a ice bucket challenge on TV. The phenomenon though exploded when The Today’s Show host Matt Lauer performed the ice bucket challenge on July 15, 2014 on TV during his show. Celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Steven Spielberg, entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, and political figures such as George W. Bush all took the challenge.
The first of One Direction guys to perform the challenge was Niall on August 18th 2014. Niall challenged Louis, who performed his ice bucket challenge on August 23rd. Louis nominated Prince Harry, among others. The same day Harry did his challenge standing under a balcony. Harry nominated Irving Azoff, Kanye West and Susan Sarandon. Liam did his challenge on August 21st and nominated Pharrell Williams, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. Liam had a group of fans pour the ice water on his head.
The majority of money raised by the challenge went on to fund much needed biomedical research. Recently, results from one of the studies funded through the ice bucket challenge have been published showing the identification of a new gene linked to ALS.