One of the most viral philanthropic social-media campaigns in history has reached our family too. We were about to board an international flight when both of my children were called out by their friends on Facebook to accept the Ice Bucket Challenge for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the deadly neurological condition commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

My kids are no strangers to ALS. Our neighbor has it, and my daughter is a student at Boston College, the alma mater of Pete Frates, the young man whose fight inspired the challenge. But I don’t recall talking about ALS as a family before, and I doubt either of my kids had ever discussed it with their friends. Like most other rare diseases, ALS doesn’t often find itself in the spotlight.

At 30,000 ft., we talked for the first time about the devastation ALS brings and what is being done about it. We watched countless videos of friends who had stepped up to the Ice Bucket Challenge. And within hours of landing, they too had dumped icy water–and uploaded the proof. We watched together in amazement as, within days, everyone from George W. Bush to Taylor Swift got soaked in the name of charity.

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