The real-world impact of the ice bucket challenge

Last year's ALS ice bucket challenge helped raise $115 million in just two months. Researchers say the money is helping them make advances in understanding a mystery protein that's prevalent in nearly all ALS cases
Last year's ALS ice bucket challenge helped r... 01:57

NEW YORK -- Last summer, the ice bucket challenge became an international sensation -- raising money for the fight against ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Participants had a lot of fun with it. But how much good did it really do?

While 17 million people took the challenge last summer -- including some bold-faced names -- the cynics tried to throw their own cold water on the idea, calling it a way to make a splash without actually doing anything.

"Don't dump a bucket of ice water on your head, it's stupid," one critic said.

Guess again, smart guy. The challenge raised $115 million dollars in less than two months last summer. During the same period the year before, they raised just $5 million.

Philip Wong is the lead researcher at Johns Hopkins and took the challenge just last week.

"It really spearheaded some of the research that otherwise we would not be able to do as rapidly as we could have," Wong told CBS News.

Specifically, researchers are now zeroing in on a protein in the brain which is dysfunctional in nearly all ALS cases.

That's great news to Pat Quinn, who was diagnosed two years ago, and was one of the co-founders of the ice bucket challenge.

"As simple as a silly bucket of ice water, what it did was change the world," Quinn said.

So now round two is underway, under the heading "Every August until a cure"

Buckets are being dumped in Central Park, and Major League Baseball is now pitching in.

So now may be a good time to drop the snark and pick up the bucket.

  • Jim Axelrod
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    Jim Axelrod is the chief investigative correspondent and senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning" and other CBS News broadcasts.