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In 30 Days, Ice Bucket Challenge Tops One Year of Feds' Spending on ALS

In 30 Days, Ice Bucket Challenge Tops One Year of Feds' Spending on ALS

Until August, the federal government was the biggest donor to research for a cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Now it is millions of people with buckets of ice.

Since the ALS ice bucket challenge caught fire across the Internet and the world, the charity has raised over $100.9 million in thirty days. By August of last year, the ALS Association had only raised $2.5 million in donations. Thanks to the ice bucket challenge, the $100 million raised thus far this year is a 3,500 percent increase in donations.

This generally small donor base means that the U.S. government is usually the biggest patron for research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease.

Through the National Institutes of Health, the federal government has transferred grants worth $39 million for the research this year. In contrast, that is less than half what the ice bucket challenge has raised in only a month.

As National journal notes, some of the federal government’s funding for ALS was cut by the Budget Control Act of 2011, passed to keep the U.S. government from defaulting on its obligations.

There is no cure for ALS and none on the horizon, with only one drug treatment approved by the FDA. Thanking everyone for the donations, ALS Assoc. President Barbara Newhouse released a statement saying, “We recognize a profound sense of urgency and are engaged in discussions about how we’re going to put this money to work in the short term and into the future.”

“People have responded with such generosity it is truly remarkable and we couldn’t be more appreciative,” Newhouse said. “These donations will truly help fuel our fight against ALS in ways that were never before possible.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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