YONKERS, N.Y. – Pouring a bucket of ice water over yourself might seem like an extreme measure to cool off, but thousands of people are doing it for a bigger reason than you'd think.
The Ice Bucket Challenge, which has become a viral social media trend across the United States, aims to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more widely known as Lou Gherig's Disease. So far, it has helped raise $2.3 million for the national ALS Association since July 29.
After someone is nominated to take the challenge, they have water dumped on their head and donate money to the charity, while challenging others. If one chooses to abstain from the ice bath, they still must donate money, including a penalty fee.
Raquel Raciti of Yonkers took the challenge after being selected by some of her friends. She posted the video to her Facebook page.
"I didn't understand how this was supposed to find a cure for ALS," she said. "After being nominated by two of my friends, I realized the entire purpose of the challenge is to raise awareness for the disease. Many people don't know about the life-altering hardship that families endure everyday due to ALS."
Raciti said she thinks the challenge is a great way to raise awareness and money, because it brought people of all ages together.
"It's almost like the new fundraising walk," she said.
Many local politicians have taken the challenge , including Westchester County Executive and NY gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale), Westchester County Legislator Jim Maisano (R-New Rochelle) and Pelham Supervisor Pete DiPaola took the challenge together in Pelham.
Paulin said she took the challenge because she knows, firsthand, the devastating effect ALS has on people and their families.
"One of my dearest friends has been struck with this disease. He's been suffering with it for ten years and you see everyday how difficult it is," she said. "It's very tough to watch someone you care so much about go through something like this. We need to raise awareness and money so families who are living with this have hope the cure will be in sight."
New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said he hadn't heard of the challenge, but would do it if he was nominated.
Donate money to the ALS Association here.
Have you taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Let us know why or why not in the comments below.