Anne and I rode in the park this morning. For me it has been three weeks since I was last in Forest Park. For Anne it has been closer to two months. We have two weeks left to train for this year’s MS-150 bicycle ride, which will not be near enough time to adequately prepare ourselves. At this point, we’ll just have to gut it out and do the best that we can. The weather of late has not been all that helpful either. Today like most of this week, it is blazing hot. The mercury is now reading 99 °F, with a heat index of 110 °F. To make matters worse the power is flickering on and off.
Not to criticize my fellow Saint Louis residents, because God knows we’ve all been on the receiving end of plenty of that over the last couple of weeks, but I feel compelled to raise the subject of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This Internet meme is everywhere, but most particularly on Facebook. For those few hermits who don’t know of what I speak, here is the skinny. ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease is a degenerative nerve disease. From my layman’s point of view it is not too dissimilar to multiple sclerosis, for which we ride to raise money to fight MS.
Fundamentally the ice bucket challenge is also a charity fund-raising activity. It functions on the principle of a pyramid scheme. All of these ice bucket challenges are recorded. An individual stands ready to either douse themselves or be doused with a bucket of ice water, but before this act can occur said individual must issue ‘the challenge’ to three other people, either donate $100 to the ALS Society or show recorded proof that you too underwent this ordeal.
Athletic stunts such as walkathons and in my case bikeathons have been staples of charity fundraising for years. The ice bucket challenge is a novel approach. The first few times that I watched one of these videos, I found them entertaining, but they have gone on and on to the point that now only the failed attempts interest me and there are plenty of those too. I guess that I question the whole faux macho aspect of this stunt. When it is so darn hot here in town, is it really all that discomforting to dump a bucket of ice water for over your head?
I swim in Lake Superior, where earlier this year the water temperature was only 40 °F. That’s only eight degrees warmer than ice water and we’re talking the largest lake in North America versus a puny bucket of water. When you go under the water in Superior, you are way more than doused with cold water than with a bucket. Two men nearly succumbed to hypothermia there a month later.
Chris, one of our Rochester friends, was recounting last week his season as a cook on a lake boat. The crew always blew off lifeboat drills, until they came to Superior. On that lake even seasoned veterans feared the water. Most of the lifeboats on his boat were open hulled and still used davits, except for one that used the newer system that quickly and automatically launched this one self-rightable lifeboat. Come lifeboat drill time, Chris found that the entire crew had crowded into this one lifeboat, exceeding its capacity and this was all before the Edmond Fitzgerald went down, which had two open hulled, davit strung ones.
While we rode in the park this morning, there was some other charity walkathon occurring. They had ice buckets, but did they share? No, this competing charity selfishly used their ice water to keep their drinks cold. As the mercury climbed and we rode past their Styrofoam ice chests, I wondered if they would mind?