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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Does T1D Need An Ice Bucket Challenge? (College Day 5)

First and foremost; college.  It's been okay so far.  I haven't fallen into a coma yet and my blood sugars are finally behaving down in the normal 100's (thank the heavens!).  Plus I have an adorable mini-fridge that stores all my insulin!

Isn't it adorable?
But anyway, while college is new and inventive and exciting, I'm here today to discuss something totally different and unrelated and freezing cold!  It's the Ice Bucket Challenge.

(For those of you out of the loop, a quick background; the Ice Bucket Challenge is where you dump a cold bucket of ice water on your head in support of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease.  You then nominate three people to do the challenge in 24 hours, or they donate to the ALS Association)

Recently this has been spreading like wildfire - my roommate and I have seen 4 of them just this week.  And while many people have been thinking up which friends to nominate (before you even THINK about it no!) and what social media to post it to, I noticed another important question - does T1D need an ice bucket challenge?

Now, first and foremost, ALS is a terrible, terrible disease.  The motor neurons in the body slowly break down, and if you're a long term survivor chances are it's very difficult to move.  Plus there's no insulin-type miracle to keep you walking.  I would take my T1D over ALS any day.  ALS needs a cure just as badly as T1D does (if not more, in some opinions).  So the first thing to ask is this; has the Ice Bucket Challenge helped with donations?

Oh my gosh, yes.

The ALS Association has reported it's received around 23 million dollars from the challenge alone.  That's a smack ton of money; numbers that my local JDRF Nevada Chapter collected maybe in the span of it's whole existence.  That money could do tons of good to any non-profit, but to JDRF especially, considering they just announced incapsulation was going to move into clinical trials (possible blog post on just that to come!).  Giving 23 million dollars to a project like that could get us closer to no shots for tup to 2 years at a time; sign me up please!

Another factor to consider; part of the Ice Bucket success is largely due to celebrity endorsement; people like Bill Gates and even Charlie Sheen have completed the challenge and donated $10,000 to ALS.  Is that possible for T1D as well?

It certainly could be.  We have a fair share of celebrities dealing with T1D right now; Nick Jonas, Crystal Bowersox, Gary Hall, and Mary Mouser are just a few people to name.  Most have participated in JDRF events before, and would likely step up to a T1D challenge.  And based on the way the Ice Bucket has been spreading, it may not take much to get other big names involved, especially considering the contacts some celebrities have.

So awesome; we have proof this idea can work, and the possibility to spread it like wildfire!  Now we just need something to do!  Easy, right?

Not so right.

While no one's come out and said it, I believe another part of ALS's success has to do with the simplicity of the Ice Bucket challenge.  It's easy to set up, cold water is easy to get your hands on, and it doesn't leave any lasting damage.  It's also a very good imitation of what ALS is like on a human body; the cold shuts it down and makes it hard to move (though, as seen above, it does give us a great look at Tom Hiddleston's abs!).  Meanwhile, on the T1D spectrum, a challenge like that poses (pardon the double word usage) a challenge.  Something most commonly associated with T1D is needles, or testing blood sugar.  Things like that are hard to get your hands on without a diabetic friend, not to mention expensive (and as I type this I literally heard another bucket of water get dropped on screaming people!).

We could always challenge people to eat a bunch of sugary snacks, but that doesn't really represent what T1D feels like.  And actually giving anyone insulin to stimulate a short-term low is super dangerous and probably super illegal somehow.  So we need a plan; something that represents T1D as a culture but is easy to get your hands on.

Not to mention the other important factor; it needs to be done fast.

While the Ice Bucket challenge is certainly going strong, people from all corners of the inter-webs are already popping up with their complaints of annoying videos clogging social media sites.  Give it another two weeks and people will be moving onto the next fad.  Give it another two weeks and a different organization will have a similar challenge for a different disease - and one that isn't T1D.  'Copycat' signs will be thrown, participation won't happen, and the trend will die out.  It's already happening with the Ice Bucket challenge - many people who've tagged haven't completed the challenge or donated.  The next time something like the Ice Bucket challenge goes around, that number is likely to double.  

Perhaps my fears of trying to creating a T1D challenge (or support Ice Bucket) can best be summed up by fellow blogger and D-Momma Alexis; Ice alone can't cure any disease.

Does T1D need an Ice Bucket-style challenge?  Heck yes.  How do we do it?  Well...hopefully we'll be figuring that out soon.

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