Blogs

Not on my bucket list

On Monday morning, I arrived on campus with a change of clothes, a towel, a bucket, and five kilos of ice

I knew I was in trouble. I had notifications on my Facebook app.  My sister had tagged me in a video. I knew what it was before I even checked it; the Ice Bucket Challenge.

I don't need to explain what this is. Maybe you've already had ice water poured over your head for charity.  My big sister had nominated me to be next.

I wasn't surprised; I have a reputation for being a good sport.  I don't mind being the butt of the joke from time to time. But to me the Ice Bucket Challenge already felt played out.  It felt like it was losing steam. I didn't even know which charity these stunts were for anyway.

I asked my TAFE class if they knew what it was all about. I instantly had volunteers willing to empty a bucket over my head. I agreed to the challenge. But only if they raised $200 for the cause.

Since I had Friday off, I'd give them until Monday to raise the cash, and at 1:15pm, when most of our IT classes had a break, I'd do the challenge in front of our building.

With the weekend came some trepidation. The idea of the cold water didn't worry me too much – I'm Canadian, this is easy-peasy-lemon squeezy.  (Although I have lived in Australia for 10 years now, and have I acclimatised. I forget what it feels like to have your eyelashes start to freeze together.) I started to have concerns for other reasons. The Ice Bucket Challenge was starting to get bad press.

Charlie Sheen had done his typical #winning jerk style version. Pamela Anderson had stood up against it on ethical considerations over animal testing. People questioned how much of the money went to research, or to support people with the MND.  People questioned if this was a case of slacktivism; getting in on a fad, with no consideration for the cause, effecting no real change.  Look at all the water being wasted in the challenge, a serious consideration for drought prone parts of the world – like California currently.  And what about all the other causes just as worthy?

Then I began to worry that my students would forget all about collecting donations. I know them - they forget homework and assignments all the time. :)

On Monday morning, I arrived on campus with a change of clothes, a towel, a bucket, and five kilos of ice. I had announced I was doing it to the Diplomas, and the Cert IV students, not to mention the other teachers. Plus my sister was waiting for my reply video.

I needn't have worried about my students. They'd all remembered. "Good weather for an Ice Bucket Challenge," someone said to me at my 10.30 class. And as for the fundraising, I was touched by everyone's generosity. It's really incredible to receive $20 from a student who only earns $5 per pizza delivery.  My colleagues stepped up as well, and I was very touched that they'd contributed. And I was extremely grateful that our community had come together, students and staff, to raise money for this cause.

And there we were, a community, together in front of our building. Laughing and smiling as one of my students hoisted the bucket of ice water above my head. We almost had an Ice Bucket Challenge Fail as some tipped on him, but the Executioner did his duty. I was drenched.

Today, I woke up with a clear conscience. My Ice Bucket video was online. I felt I had done a good deed. The video was on Facebook receiving likes. But sensing the fad has passed, I didn't nominate anyone myself.  I checked my phone, and saw another Facebook notification. An old friend of mine had posted this article, suggesting his friends give it a read.

Humbled, schooled, proud, and humbled all over again, reading the opinion of the Ice Bucket Challenge by someone actually affected by the disease had my emotions going in every direction.

I knew why my sister nominated me. Because I'm willing to be the fool, to be the butt of the joke, to be humiliated for the cause.  I'll get dunked by ice water. I'll wear a Hawaiian shirt. I'll dye my hair. I'll shave my beard off to fight cancer, MS, Crohn's, heart disease, ALS and MND; you bring the cause, I'll do it. Yesterday, I traded the tiniest little piece of dignity for $250 put to a good cause, and we had fun doing it. I'd make that deal any time.

And I challenge you to do the same!