The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: How it Started


Nothing has brought more ALS awareness like the Ice Bucket Challenge during the summer of 2014. The viral sensation spanned the globe, forever changing the future and trajectory of ALS. And the awareness and funds generated by the social media phenomena put us on a path to end this disease.

Ten years later, do you remember how it started? We do!


Anthony Senerchia was diagnosed with ALS in 2003 at the age of 32. “Here we were, just newly married, and what are we going to do? Is there a cure? Is there anything? What can he take? And there was nothing, there was no hope, there was nothing,” recalled his wife, Jeanette, in 2015.

In 2014, Jeanette Senerchia’s cousin, professional golfer Chris Kennedy, challenged her to take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge. It’s believed Kennedy was the first to pour a cold bucket of water over his head in the name of ALS.

He sent it to me as a joke and then it turned into something extraordinary.”

Jeanette accepted her cousin’s challenge, filmed herself dumping a bucket of ice water over her head “to generate awareness of ALS,” and extended the challenge to three of her girlfriends.

Pat Quinn

“It just kind of took off in our town, it was pretty unbelievable,” she remembered.

Once the momentum of the Challenge started in Anthony and Jeanette’s hometown, it began to spread. Then came Pat Quinn. Pat was diagnosed with ALS in March of 2013, just one month after his 30th birthday. “My network was linked by just one person to her network,” recalled Pat.


Then came Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 at the age of just 27. Pat and Pete had connected over social media shortly after Pat was diagnosed with the disease. “From there he passed it to Pete and his network really took off with it,” Jeanette said.

Pete’s family and friends were determined to spread the Challenge as far and wide as possible to raise awareness and funds for ALS. “Pete’s family was commenting, liking, and sharing for the first couple nights straight through,” Pat said.

And the rest is history.

Awareness of ALS took the world by storm. A media frenzy ensued, broadcasting professional athletes and celebrities taking part, often times trying to “one up” the next with their own unique or creative way to be doused with ice water.

From Bill Gates and Oprah to former president George W. Bush and Taylor Swift, awareness and support for the ALS community poured in. “The Ice Bucket Challenge was the beginning of the end of ALS,” said Pat.

17 million films. 159 countries. 10 billion views. 220 million dollars raised.

And now, flash forward 10 years, never before have we seen so many people involved in the fight against the disease: researchers, clinicians and healthcare professionals, advocates and legislators, volunteers, and donors. We’ve seen major advancements in research, advocacy, and care that have impacted the ALS community, but our work is far from over.

We need new treatments.

We need more care.

We need better care.

We need more awareness.

So, what do you say? In honor of the 10th anniversary of the Ice Bucket Challenge, will you help us relive the moment, reignite the passion, and reinvigorate the community to help us end ALS once and for all?

It's going to take all of us, working together, to finally see a world without ALS.

Let's See It End.

Help Us Make ALS a Livable Disease

Print Friendly and PDF