About a month ago, an old friend of mine called me up, sounding frantic. "You have to check out _____ on youtube! He's talking about ALS!" he screamed, sounding like a 13 year old boy that had just kissed a girl for the first time. After a few seconds, my hearing returned. "What is this ice bucket stuff he's referring to?" I asked, as I became 1 of the more than 8 million "views". A few seconds later, the video answered my question as this "celebrity" was doused with a bucket of what appeared to be ice water. The "celebrity" then talked about "calling out" (challenging another person to do the same, as my 8 year old explained to me) several other celebrities to do the same. I smiled for a few moments, telling myself that after being out of the limelight for so long, a deadly disease was going to get some exposure to a new generation that, for the most part, had never knew or heard of Lou Gehrig, let alone his fatal disease. "Finally, someone is talking about ALS in the media. This is great, right? I mean, the more people hear about this, the more people will be educated about it. Then, attention will be given to funding research for a cure. This is awesome! Right?" my colleague sounded a bit skeptical. After thinking about his question, I soon realized he wasn't alone. As a retired doctor, I have often wondered why certain diseases, especially deadly ones, have been given priority, while others are completely ignored in the media. The answers to this question are numerous, but usually have a common denominator: When an "A-Lister" in Hollywood is personally affected by a specific disease, their power and influence can target the media's attention to that disease. Awareness, funding, and expanded research often follows...but sadly, in some instances, only AFTER money making opportunities have been explored. There are exceptions. In the 1980's, many celebrities joined together to bring educated awareness to the HIV/AIDS epidemic which had spread globally like wildfire. Many of them donated not just their time and celebrity to this cause, but their own personal fortunes to fighting this relentless killer. Their efforts paid off in a huge way. Today, almost 30 years later, HIV is no longer considered a death sentence. Billions of dollars in funding led to research that developed remarkable drugs that have prolonged sufferer's life spans to near average levels. The stigma attached to those testing positive has also been drastically reduced, if not destroyed all together, as awareness promoted daily in the media led to more and more people becoming educated about the disease. There seemed to be a never ending campaign to educate the public regarding "The Truth About HIV/AIDS". School kids learned about safe sex, and their parents learned that Magic Johnson wasn't going to spread the disease by hugging someone. The education and awareness that resulted from Hollywood's involvement was phenomenal. Fast forward... I have yet to have anyone I have asked tell me that they know more about ALS after watching any of these celebrities get doused with ice water. Even my kids looked at me completely puzzled when I asked them what ALS is after they had just watched the latest ice bucket video. Which leads me to the reason I started this thread... Do you think that more people are being EDUCATED about ALS because of these "ice bucket challenges", or has this form of "campaign to bring awareness" been demoted to strictly "entertainment"? I'm hoping that the end result is awareness that leads to more education and funding for research. If so, I would hope that such campaigns will increase in number as more and more people benefit. My concern, however, is that in today's world, education will not be the end result. Those are my thoughts, what are yours?