Last November, Shaquille O’Neal ate the world’s spiciest chip on-air and ran from the set in crippling pain. Two months later, the NBA great geared up for another fiery feat alongside NBA on TNT co-host Charles Barkley. The two chomped down hot, green peppers with ease, and it was all for a good cause: The #ALSPepperChallenge is social media’s newest viral tactic for raising awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
ALS is a progressive disease that makes it hard to walk, talk, eat, and breathe, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure within three to five years after their first symptoms appear, and around 10 percent of people survive 10 years or more.
While there currently is no cure for the disease, money raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014 helped fund the identification of a new gene associated with the sickness, and in May 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new drug to treat ALS — the first in over 20 years, Mom.me reports.
Patty Haberstroh, who was diagnosed with ALS in October, came up with the new challenge, in which people record themselves eating hot peppers and nominate three others, encouraging them to donate to the cause.
Haberstroh’s goal is to raise $50,000 in 90 days for the ALS Therapy Development Institute, a nonprofit research center focused on finding effective treatments for patients. So far, the 68-year-old’s campaign has raised over $44,000.
To ogle over celebrities and civilians tearing up over spicy peppers, follow the #ALSPepperChallenge on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Those interested in donating to the cause can do so by clicking this link.
Or eat a pepper! Here’s a ranking of the hottest ones.