This important discovery is what the Ice Bucket Challenge just accomplished.

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 Association ringing the NASDAQ bell. Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images.


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.

Benedict Cumberbatch taking it for ALS. GIF via TastefullyOffensive.com/YouTube.

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.

Chris Pratt getting drenched from above. GIF via Shine On Media/YouTube.


The moment before, with Ian McKellan and film crew. Image via Keith Stern/YouTube.

Anna Kendrick, really feeling it. Image via Shine On Media/YouTube.

Tom Cruise and Chris McQuarrie on the set of "Mission Impossible." Image via Mission Impossible/YouTube.

When Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck were still together (sad face). GIF via ALS Ice Bucket Challenge/YouTube.

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.

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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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