ALS Netherlands donations break Dutch record

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The global rage of the Ice Bucket Challenge has made its mark in ALS donations, and ALS Nederland is feeling the generosity as well. In August alone, the foundation has received more than 14,000 donations, compared to 200 donations every month, the NOS reports.

"Because of the Ice Bucket Challenge, where people throw ice water over themselves to raise money for ALS research, we are seeing an enormous charge. And then to think that August hasn't even come to an end yet", says foundation spokesperson Ineke Zaal.

There is not yet a clear overview of the exact amount of the donations for the month. Zaal tells the NOS that the foundation can hardly keep up with the torrent of donations. With only five people on staff, there's a shortage of manpower. "We have taken on four extra volunteers to help us."

The Challenge has brought ALS so much attention that the foundation's is having a hard time supporting the sheer number of visitors. Zaal admits that the website was overloaded in the last weekend, with 35,000 visitors in one day, compared to 500 usually.

The Ice Bucket Challenge just keeps on going. It works on nominations, in which people partaking in the challenge nominate others to do the same, and then place videos of themselves getting ice water showers on social media. Zaal thought it was a fad. "First people were scared that they would be nominated, but now I also hear that people are scared if they don't get nominated."

With people like Leonardo DiCaprio and George Bush taking part in the Challenge, ALS is now in vogue amongst the causes. In America, the Challenge rose €40 million in three weeks' time.

"The attention is overwhelming, and we work from early morning to late at night, but of course we're very happy with that", Zaal says. In her five years working for ALS Nederland, Zaal has never seen more attention for the sickness. "Now there are few people who don't know that ALS is an incurable illness", she says.

In The Netherlands, there are 1500 patients suffering from ALS. The sickness kills about 500 people every year. Once people have ALS, their life expectancy is between three and five years.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a motor neuron disease that degenerates the muscles. Physicist Stephen Hawking has ALS, and has survived with it for more than 50 years, it is considered a rare case. 

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