This important discovery is what the Ice Bucket Challenge just accomplished.
See? Silly fun CAN lead to great things!
Two summers ago, it seemed that everyone in the world was throwing buckets of ice water over their heads for the best reason — to help find a cure for a deadly disease.
ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive disease that attacks the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
The average life expectancy after diagnosis is two to five years, and currently there is no cure.
Two years after the ALS ice bucket challenge rocked the internet, however, things might be about to change.
A project called MinE at the University of Massachusetts Medical School has just discovered the gene that's responsible for ALS.
Until recently, one of the biggest obstacles to finding a cure for ALS had been not knowing what caused the disease. Now that researchers can pinpoint the gene (which is called NEK1), it will be that much easier to figure out how to reverse and/or treat its effects.
This incredible scientific breakthrough would not have been possible had MinE not received a $1,000,000 grant from the ALS Association/Ice Bucket Challenge.
As such, it's only right that we pay tribute to the many people who sacrificed their dryness and dignity for the greater good.
Over 6,000 people are diagnosed with ALS each year in the United States alone. But this discovery puts us a big step closer finding a cure.
It's mostly thanks to a meme — a truth-or-dare type challenge that many at the time called pointless. This breakthrough, two years after the fact, just goes to show that virality does have power, power that, when harnessed in positive ways, can absolutely be used for the greater good.
Sure these GIFs and videos and images make us laugh, and sure, maybe some people didn't understand why they were participating or they were only doing it because their friends were, but the fact remains: The Ice Bucket Challenge inspired people to get up and actually do something that truly made a difference. And that's pretty incredible.