Despite the fact that everyone you know is growing tired of watching everyone you know dump buckets of ice water on their heads, there’s one more that you must see. It will remind you that the Ice Bucket Challenge isn’t just an excuse to act silly — it’s a very effective method to raise awareness and funds for ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that, if left without a cure, will almost surely kill the 30,000 or so people who currently have it within a few years. The life expectancy of an average ALS patient is just two to five years from the time of diagnosis, according to the ALS Association.
Knowing that makes the Ice Bucket Challenge video posted today by former Tennessee Titans linebacker Tim Shaw, 30, who played with the team from 2007 to 2013, all the more poignant.
“A year ago, I was playing NFL football,” Shaw says in the video. “I’ve recently been diagnosed with ALS. I’m here today to stand up and fight with all of you against this disease.”
Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky points out Shaw’s video is not just important because it puts a face to the disease, but also because it reminds the world about the statistics that link head trauma, a serious problem in football, to degenerative neurological conditions.
“That’s the elephant in the room,” Petchesky writes. “Study after study links football to head trauma, and head trauma to a host of chronic brain diseases. A 2012 study found football players are four times more likely to die from ALS and Alzheimer’s.”
He adds: “Roger Goodell takes the ice bucket challenge for ALS awareness and says nothing. Tim Shaw’s says everything.”