A Campaign for Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Cho Ah-young, Kwon Ki-sul승인2015.04.06l수정2016.03.02 16:01l0호 0면

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Last summer, the so-called ‘ice bucket challenge’ took the world by storm and Korea was not immune to the influence through social media. Actors like Choi Min-sik, singers like G-dragon, sport commentators like Lee Youngpyo, and many other entertainers, politicians and athletes joined in on this campaign. Many ordinary people also posted their ice bucket challenge videos on their SNS such as Facebook and Twitter.

Getting involved was easy. People nominated by others would nominate three others once they completed the challenge. People who didn’t want to drop a bucket of ice water on themselves had to donate 100 dollar to the Korea Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (KALSA) or another related association to
Lou Gehrig’s disease. According to KALSA, there are 2500 patients suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease in korea. The ice bucket challenge was warmly received by people because the monies went to help people suffering from this fatal disease.

The Dankook Herald (DKH) interviewed Cho Kwang-he, an office director in KALSA to understand a bit more about the ice bucket challenge. According to Ms. Cho, this challenge started in North America and became vogue in Korea by Cho Young-bum, a representative of Facebook in Korea.

DKH asked him about the positive effects that resulted from the challenge. “It has raised public concerns about Lou Gehrig’s disease. Also, by nominating three people, it generated a fast rising ripple effect in our fundraising. It has been a ray of sunshine for our patients suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, who believed they will die in a few years. They are anticipating a stronger welfare policy and remedial agents to result from this fundraising boom,” she said.

However, it wasn’t always supported. It occasionally provoked controversy. Some
celebrities were denounced for not being sincere. They were accused of participating in this challenge for self-promotion. DKH asked about the opinion of the association with regards to this claim. “The patients always appreciated it.
It is really difficult to get an entertainer ambassador for your cause, so really, it was a great help,” she expressed positively about the controversy.

DKH asked about the money they received, what was the most pressing area they needed to address with the additional funding. “We don’t know the exact amount of money, but donators have exceeded 11,000 people. Medical expenses,
nursing fees, and patient goods are the most necessary areas where we need help. KALSA is happy about the contributions because now we can buy the supplies we need with it.”

DKH also learned about the support needed from the government or more specifically the Ministry of Health and Welfare. “There are many policies already in place for Lou Gehrig’s disease patients. For instance, patients take advantage of existing policies for disabled people.

However, the situation of Lou Gehrig’s disease patients is far more serious at later stages. Patients who require a respirator require 24 hour assistance.” The director concluded our interview by saying, “The patients can’t even move their fingertips.
They communicate only through eye movements or by blinking. No one is safe from the Lou Gehrig’s disease, because nobody knows what causes it. Thus I hope that everyone pays attention to the seriousness of those living with
the disease,” she solicited.

▲ A man joining Ice Bucket Challenge.

The challenge should not finish with such a simple event. People must keep their pure heart for the patients suffering from the disease. However, now that the summer is over, this may prove to be difficult. There are effective alternative methods to keep the awareness alive such as short music concerts, exhibitions, and even volunteer activities as a form of work orientation.

Through these kinds of programs, the awareness can continue throughout the winter, and act as a great means for people not to forget Korea’s many patients. In addition, people should consider developing creative campaigns to remember the victims of the Sewol ferry tragedy forever. With the challenge as a
momentum, many novel events geared to generating interest in the weak and alienated must be developed.


Cho Ah-young, Kwon Ki-su  dkherald@hotmail.com
<저작권자 © The Dankook Herald, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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