Hot Pepper Challenge Makes Me Weep

Are you familiar with the ALS Pepper Challenge?

Last October, Patty Haberstroh of Westport, Connecticut, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive disorder that has no cure.

Aware that the Ice Bucket Challenge raised a good deal of money for ALS research in 2014, the Haberstroh family posted a video of themselves eating hot peppers on Christmas, and dared friends to do the same to raise cash for research.

Since then, several celebrities have accepted the challenge, including Shaquille O’Neal, who after chomping down on a hot pepper looked ready to weep. The initial goal of $50,000 was reached in January, and a new goal of $1 million was set. You can learn more about the challenge at

I salute those who participate and donate, but there’s something about it that makes me angry. Why do we have to torture ourselves to get adequate funding to research cures for deadly diseases?

Congressional “pork” projects regularly suck millions from the Treasury on wasteful endeavors. And a recent purchase of two new Air Force One refrigerators will cost taxpayers a mind-boggling $23.6 million.

Shouldn’t ALS and other serious diseases get the funding necessary to maximize research? What are our priorities? The United States could lose its place as the world leader in medical research, with spending down 13% from 2004 through 2014.

Will future humans look back at us the way we do Neanderthals? Is this the best we can do — desperately attempting to fund vital health research by dumping buckets of ice water on ourselves or eating burning-hot peppers?

The pepper challenge itself can be dangerous. In 2016, it was reported that a man who ate a superhot ghost pepper in a different contest burned a hole in his esophagus. Meanwhile, ALS sufferers pray for a cure.

“I’m fighting against time here,” Patty Haberstroh told People magazine. “The average life span from diagnosis is three to five years, and I pray those hot pepper eaters are raising enough money to find a cure for me and others before it is too late. It is truly an underfunded disease.”

Maybe it’s time to dump a bucket of ice water on the heads of those in Congress.

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One Response to Hot Pepper Challenge Makes Me Weep

  1. Terry says:

    It’s worse than that: the NIH, a government agency that seems to have total control over which research they fund, pays “researchers” millions to perform sadistic experiments on animals, experiments that never had any potential to help human beings. Case in point:

    At the Oregon National Primate Research Center, dozens of pregnant rhesus monkeys had tubes surgically implanted in order to subject them to a continuous flow of nicotine for the last four months of their pregnancies. A few days before full term, experimenters cut the fetuses out of the mothers, to prove that pregnant women shouldn’t smoke because it does harm to their unborn fetuses. Duh? The “scientists” who conducted these experiments received millions in taxpayer dollars by torturing and killing animals “proving” something that we’ve all known for years.

    There should be more money allotted to research that actually helps humans. Research into the causes and a cure for ALS has been badly ignored. That research should not become decades of trying to give animals ALS, but into research of the progression in individual patients, comparing living conditions, history and exposures of people who have come down with the disease, similar to research into the causes of cancer such as carcinogens in the environment, and dna research as to who has contacted the disease.

    I also think that a lot of money being spent should go to care of the people who have the disease. I know of a woman who had gotten ALS, who was in dire straits financially, just to be able to get help with her care, and her medical bills. A GoFundMe page was started to help her offset her medical bills, which were enormous. Her insurance company is NOT paying all these expenses.

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