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Public figures urge charity from heart, not challenge

TAIPEI -- As the “Ice Bucket Challenge” craze continues to sweep Taiwan, more and more public figures are urging the public to be wary of reducing a charity campaign into a game.

In a recent post on his Facebook page, Taiwanese ultramarathon runner Tommy Chen said he has made a donation to the Taiwan Motor Neuron Disease Association — which helps people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — but will nominate no one.

“Charity is not a fad, companionship is the way to go,” he wrote.

In a video posted earlier in the week, Taiwanese-Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro, who took up the challenge to splash water over his head, also urged viewers to “do one spontaneous thing to show care for society without having to be challenged.”

He also refused to nominate anyone else.

Film director and author Wu Nien-jen, meanwhile, preferred to donate money, saying he believes that pouring ice water over himself will not help him feel the true pain suffered by ALS patients.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is a viral meme meant to raise awareness of ALS patients. Those who are challenged have the options of dousing themselves with ice water, donating US$100 to an ALS charity, or doing both.

Many Taiwanese public figures and big-name celebrities, including singers Jay Chou and A-mei and band Mayday, have taken on the task and challenged more to participate.

Between Aug. 17 and Aug. 21, the Taiwan Motor Neuron Disease Association has received donations totaling NT$13 million (US$433,091), according to the association.

Meanwhile, some are also concerned that the Ice Bucket Challenge will take away donations from other causes.

Liu Ho-chien, CEO of the Spinal Cord Injury Foundation, believes that although regular donations to his foundation may not be affected, single donations “will definitely” decline.

Chen Li-yin, founder of the Taiwan Foundation for Rare Disorders, however, is more optimistic, saying she believes those who identify with a cause will not readily cut back on their donations.

For the Taiwan Motor Neuron Disease Association, however, the sudden influx of donations is for sure a delightful and unexpected surprise.

Liu Yen-chu, head of the association, said he had been worried that donations to his association would significantly decline this year after NT$3 billion was donated by the public to the Kaohsiung city government after a series of gas explosions in the city at the end of July.

But society is filled with love, he added.

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