“What you do makes a difference. You get to decide what difference you want to make.”

If you haven’t heard about the ALS #IceBucketChallenge – well, there’s no way you haven’t. You’re alive and reading this blog (so you have internet access), therefore, you’ve heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. With the way this has caught on, I knew it would only be a matter of time before it got around to me.

I’m going against the grain here and opting not to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. If they weren’t aware before, I’m certain everyone with a TV or computer is aware of ALS now that this challenge has gone viral, so at this point, me dumping a bucket of water over my head is going to have zero impact on the cause. That and no one wants to see me dumping a bucket of water over my head – I know I wouldn’t. And I can’t be the only one who’s getting sick of seeing these videos everywhere (unless it’s Dave Grohl or someone equally as entertaining).

My version of the Ice Bucket Challenge

My version of the Ice Bucket Challenge

I am, however, a big fan of donating to charities that mean something to me. I try to give on a regular basis, both big and small amounts – anywhere from the $250 I gave a few month’s ago to a friend’s cancer fight fund to the $2 I donated yesterday to Petco to help homeless pets. So I’m definitely taking this “challenge” as a great reason to donate to a charity – but I’m not donating to ALS.

Before everyone freaks out and the hate comments start pouring in, let me explain. ALS research is an incredibly worthy charity, worthy of my money and worthy of the $15.6 million and counting this social media phenomenon has raised. But there are hundreds of other equally worthy charities out there that could use our financial help – from big national ones like St. Jude’s, Wounded Warrior Project and any type of cancer research to local guys like United Way of Cass Clay and For Luv of Dog Rescue. Rather than donate $100 to ALS, simply because I feel I have to after being called out in this challenge, I’m donating $100 to a charity that’s very near and dear to me.

My donation to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals

My donation to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

I’m personalizing the Ice Bucket Challenge and have donated $100 to my local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Sanford Children’s Hospital. Why this charity? I’ve seen firsthand where the dollars go. I’ve toured local hospitals, gotten a glimpse of the state-of-the-art equipment they have and met some of the children CMN Hospitals has impacted. I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet several local directors across the country and hear them passionately speak about the CMN Hospitals mission. Plus, I have a major soft spot for kids.

In addition to personalizing the donation portion of this challenge, I’m doing something different for the nomination part. Rather than call out people to simply dump a bucket of water over their heads or feel socially pressured into donating money to a charity they may not feel strongly about (or even if they’d really like to contribute, maybe they just can’t afford to right now), I’m instead going to challenge everyone reading this to do something that will make a difference. Bring coffee for your co-worker who has a new baby. Pay a sincere compliment to a friend. Mow your elderly neighbor’s lawn. Treat your niece or nephew to an ice cream date (and mom and dad to a much-needed break!). Or, donate to a charity that you personally believe in. Big or small, do something that will make a difference.

That’s really what this Ice Bucket Challenge started as, right? A way to make a difference for the future of ALS research. And it definitely has; my decision to do what I’m doing isn’t meant to take anything away from the people who have dumped icy water over their heads in the name of raising awareness. Clearly, those acts have made a massive impact, and helped raise more than $15 million dollars for the charity. But I feel it has gotten to the point where the initial goal of raising awareness is fading and it’s time for something new. Consider this my kickstart to raising awareness for making a difference in any way you can – no matter how small it may seem!

Okay, I’ve said how I feel. Now it’s your turn. Post your comments or tweet me @runlikeagirl311. Or, better yet, tell me what you’re going to do to make a difference that means something to you!

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