Obama Passed on the Ice Bucket Challenge: Here’s Why

Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy, nominated President Barack Obama on Facebook to do the #StrikeOutALS “Ice Bucket Challenge.” In a video posted on the Facebook page of her son, Maxwell Kennedy, before pouring an orange beach bucket of ice water over her head, she said, “Welcome to Cape Cod, President Obama. I nominate you.”

Obama passed. But he did make a $100 donation to an undisclosed charity that fights amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. “The president appreciates Mrs. Kennedy thinking of him for the challenge — though his contribution to this effort will be monetary,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told the Boston Globe.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is a public awareness campaign for ALS, a neurodegenerative disease better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease that affects 12,000 Americans, tailored for the social media age. It spread quickly across Facebook and Twitter in the final weeks of July, beginning with just over 100 tweets tagged #icebucketchallenge, before ballooning. In the past thirty days, more than 118,000 tweets have mentioned the challenge, and the hashtag is now popping up 32,000 times a day on Twitter, according to the social analytics company Topsy.

And these numbers give a small peak at how many people are participating in the challenge. Videos, included with tweets and shared through Facebook, spread the challenge; once it’s issued, the participate has a choice: donate $100 to a charity devoted to find a cure for ALS or dump a bucket of ice water on his or her head, film it, then nominate more friends to complete the challenge within 24 hours.