Ice Bucket Challenge Fundraiser Anthony Carbajal Wins 2015 Cash, Sweat & Tears Award
"As the Ice Bucket Challenge was growing, its success had been bittersweet for me because I felt as though there was a lack of complete understanding of what ALS truly is," he said. "So I decided to turn the camera on myself. I didn't know what I was going to say, but I knew I wanted it to give people a better sense of what the disease is — and why it's so important to find a cure."
Carbajal's video accomplished what others' had not. It started a conversation about the disease — and put a human face on its devastating effects. With more than 16 million views, it has also put Carbajal into the public spotlight. He has since been able to discuss the disease on the popular Ellen DeGeneres Show, pen essays for media outlets like CNN.com and start an online campaign called Kiss My ALS.
In turn, his work has provided lessons to volunteers and nonprofit fundraisers about how to connect donors to your favorite cause.
"With any cause, you have to be transparent and authentic. That's the reason why my video has been so successful," Carbajal says. "If the reader, or the viewer, or the person contributing doesn't understand the story behind the cause, they aren't going to be as involved."
Even more important, however, has been his impact on ALS-TDI and its work to find a cure for the disease. As a result of the money raised from Carbajal's video, ALS-TDI has been able to expand its prescription-medicine program from 25 patients to 300, as well as move forward with clinical trials that are likely to help advance the development of new ALS drugs.
"Anthony's story is the story of ALS and the urgency we all feel in the need to develop effective treatments and cures for patients today," says ALS-TDI Chief Executive Officer Steve Perrin. "His Ice Bucket Challenge video inspired thousands of people to join the fight and give to ALS research at ALS.net. As the only ALS organization 100 percent focused on ALS research, we have been able to invest those dollars rapidly into research programs, including expanding our precision medicine program, the only one for ALS in the world, from 25 patients to 300."