Harvard’s Poignant Ice Bucket Challenge

Alon Kremer, MBA '16, led the challenge. His brother, Avi Kremer, MBA '07, was diagnosed with ALS ten years ago. Learn more about the HBS ice bucket challenge

Alon Kremer, MBA ’16, led the challenge. His brother, Avi Kremer, MBA ’07, was diagnosed with ALS ten years ago

Harvard Business School’s Class of 2016 yesterday (Aug. 29) finally got on campus to do what just about every other top business school has already done: The ALS ice bucket challenge.

While HBS’ version of the ubiquitous social media event was no match for the extravaganza put on by UNC’s Kenan-Flagler MBA students, it was far more poignant. Alon Kremer, MBA ’16, whose brother, fellow Harvard MBA Avi Kremer, was diagnosed with ALS ten years ago, organized the event in support of Prize4Life, a nonprofit founded by HBS alumni.

A former captain in the Israeli Defense Forces, Kremer was admitted to HBS in the Class of 2007. His resume detailed the trajectory of a rising star: captain in the Israeli Defense Forces; graduate of Technion—the Israeli Institute of Technology; project manager at Elbit Systems, the largest private defense company in Israel; and a newly admitted member of the Harvard Business School MBA Class of 2007. In his first semester at the school, he was diagnosed with ALS. When Kremer asked his doctor what he could do, the doctor replied simply, “Prepare a will.”

Harvard MBA students dumped ice water over their heads (see video below) in response to a challenge from Columbia Business School. In turn, Harvard’s Class of 2016 issued its challenge to MIT Sloan along with Harvard Medical and Law Schools.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been going viral on social media since late July. The campaign has raised awareness and millions of dollars for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The idea: Dump a bucket of chilly water and ice over your head and challenge three others to do the same or donate $100 to ALS. Many who take the challenge give money to ALS even when they endure that cold stream of ice and water. Through Friday, Aug. 29, the ALS Association has received more than $100 million, with donations ranging from under one dollar to $200,000.

The first highly selective business school to get into the act was Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business (see following page). Duke then challenged MBAs at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler School, Wharton, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School. Then, UNC laid down the gauntlet, issuing challenges to MBAs at Yale’s School of Management, Georgetown University’s McDonough School, and North Carolina State.

Georgetown students also enlisted their dean in getting into the act (see below). In the Jesuit tradition of men and women for others, our MBAs dumped ice water and donated to raise awareness and funds to combat the disease. They challenged INSEAD, ESADE Business School, Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, and McDonough Dean David Thomas to complete the challenge. Thomas promptly accepted the #IceBucketChallenge and called upon Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, alumnus and comedian Jim Gaffigan, and the alumni and Georgetown supporters who founded Social Radar — Ted Leonsis, Michael Chasen and Steve Case.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.