LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

When the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates join in, then you know it's big.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral and then some; better than any public relations campaign the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association could have ever dreamed up, according to Taylor Hockensmith, the executive director of the organization's Texas chapter.

'You could have paid millions of dollars and nobody could have come up with something like this... and it wouldn't have worked if we would have,' said Taylor Hockensmith.

In three weeks' time, $15.6 million in donations have poured into the ALS Association nationally, compared to $1.8 million over the same period last year.

Several Dallas Cowboys have joined the challenge, including Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten.

Head coach Jason Garrett took part in the good fun for a good cause, as well. 'I can't think of anything that's bad about it,' he said. There's been a lot of camaraderie involved and a lot of fun and games with the athletes taking the ice bucket challenge, but specifically for NFL players past and present when it comes to ALS and pro football the research is sobering.

On this weekend's game broadcast, Former Cowboys player Darryl Johnson referred to a 2012 study that linked head trauma to the disease.

'This is the one that makes a lot of us nervous, because there is definitely a a disparity with the general population and football players,' Johnston said.

The study concludes that NFL players are four times more likely to die from the disease than the general population. So Johnston and Cowboys great Troy Aikman took the challenge as well... fully understanding the significance.

'All these people are doing it,' Garrett said. 'It's a great way to raise awareness for ALS. I think people have embraced the opportunity to be a part of it.'

A few critics have complained about it being more show than substance but the proof is in the numbers. More than 300,000 new donors means people aren't just getting wet they're reaching in their pockets, too.

E-mail jtrahan@wfaa.com

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.wfaa.com/story/sports/nfl/cowboys/2014/08/25/14326822/