Bucket List
Laura Van Zeyl

Take it from a mom. “Everybody’s doing it” is a poor excuse to do just about anything. But that’s not stopping an endless loop of Ice Bucket Challenges playing on our social media streams, raising unprecedented money and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The primary beneficiary of all of this viral attention has been the ALS Assn., which looks likely to top $100 million in donations since July 29, compared to $2.7 million in the same period last year.

It began as an either/or ultimatum: Either post a video of yourself dumping a bucket of ice water on your head within 24 hours of being nominated (and nominate three more people for the honor with the same urgency) or donate $100. Most of the posts I’ve seen, whether from celebrities or my own Facebook friends, have participants dumping and donating, an effective combination since the resulting videos spread the word while the rubber meets research with the money actually raised.

I took the plunge myself after being nominated by Home Fashion Forecast Integrated Media consultant Jessica Fidrocki. Fanimation President Nathan Frampton quickly rose to the occasion after I nominated him and incoming American Lighting Assn. (ALA) President Eric Jacobson met Nathan’s subsequent challenge. (Heads up: You may not be able to view my Facebook links if you aren't logged into Facebook or the privacy settings for the person who posted won't allow it, but hopefully you can see some of the fun!)

Eric, Stan Simmons and I all nominated rep Richard Alan. In my case, I’ll admit I was hoping for a prop-filled presentation similar to his ARTS Awards and ALA Pillar of the Industry acceptance speeches. Alas, no payoff there yet, but I have no doubt that he has donated.

Edge Lighting’s Mike Donovan did not disappoint in the Ice Bucket Challenge edition of his Mike’s Monthly Minute video series, sporting one of his signature taste-challenged suit jackets. Mike was nominated by Lightology staff.

That Chicago showroom was not the only retailer to get into the ALS act. Major props to Max and Herman Lebersfeld of Capitol Lighting for allowing themselves to be doused, along with Eric Lebersfeld. (Mercifully, they didn’t commemorate their 101-year-old employee Hy Goldman with a birthday bucket.) Jodie Orange, owner of Toronto’s Living Lighting on King accepted her challenge while at Disneyland. (“M-I-C … see you shriek …”) And Lighting Innovation in California is encouraging customers to come out and contribute while watching owner Judy Ziccardi take a bucket from each of her staff members at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 3.

One of the most touching tributes I saw was that of employees at Robert Abbey remembering former co-owner and President Jeffrey Rose, who lost his battle with ALS in 2010 at the age of 55. Rose’s widow, Darlene, even now serves on the Board of Compassionate Care ALS, a cause that supports ALS patients and their families, which is where the company contributed.

I’ve learned of other ALS organizations as a result of this phenomenon, like the cure-focused ALS Therapy Development Institute. And I’ve seen people use their 15 minutes of freezing cold fame to promote other worthy charities, either in addition to an ALS donation or instead of one. Frankly, I don’t see a problem with piggybacking on the ice bucket bandwagon. It proves there’s room in our hearts for all kinds of healing and counters the argument that this massive outpouring will ultimately hurt other charities by gobbling up a finite financial pie. I’m more curious about when our tolerance for watching or responding to these videos will wane. In the meantime, I appreciate our industry’s efforts so far to keep it interesting and inspiring.

About this author

Laura Van Zeyl

Laura Van Zeyl is the Publisher/Editorial Director of Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast magazines, and has been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries since 1993. In 2014, she was named one of "100 Women of Inspiration" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine.

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