Envoy enjoys frigid shower just before US bans diplomats from taking Ice Bucket Challenge
The US State Department was a day too late when it issued a note prohibiting American diplomats from taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge charity campaign, as US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney had already taken the plunge.
“Can’t choose just one. Join me in supporting charities of your choice. Volunteer, make a difference,” she said in a Tweet message in which she posted a photo of her being saturated with freezing water on Wednesday.
The Ice Bucket Challenge is a charity stunt that has got everyone from billionaires to pop stars – and even former US presidents – drenched by buckets of ice water.
But don’t expect more American diplomats to get involved in the fast-growing campaign, first launched in support of Lou Gehrig’s disease research, any time soon.
The US State Department has issued an internal telegram forbidding its ambassadors and other high-profile foreign service officers from participating in the forfeit, in which people either pledge US$100 (Bt3,200) to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) – more commonly known in the US as Lou Gehrig’s disease – research or record themselves getting soaked by frigid water, then post it online and challenge others to do the same.
“It’s not just about ambassadors. Federal government ethics rules prevent us from using our public offices, such as high public offices such as ambassadors, for private gain, no matter how worthy the cause is,” State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Thursday.
“For that reason, high-ranking State Department officials are unfortunately unable to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge,” she added.
President Barack Obama has declined a dare from Ethel Kennedy, the 86-year-old widow of late senator Robert F Kennedy. Obama promised to make a gift instead.
Pop star Justin Bieber, former US president George W Bush and Microsoft founder Bill Gates are just some of the celebrities and notables who have drenched themselves in icy water in support of the cause.
Having gone viral on social media, the popularity of the challenge has spread around the globe, particularly to Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and New Zealand.
In Thailand, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge from Krungsri Consumer.
The former prime minister poured iced water onto himself at the Thai Red Cross Society at 2pm yesterday, and Krungsri Consumer will in turn donate Bt500,000 to the society.
Abhisit said he would challenge three former Democrat MPs after completing the challenge. He has chosen Thepthai Senpong, Sirichoke Sopha and Chavanond Intarakomalyasut.
Meanwhile, four US firefighters were injured, two seriously, on Thursday as they were helping run an Ice Bucket Challenge at a Kentucky university.
“We express our heartfelt sympathy and prayers for the families of the firefighters who were injured,” Campbellsville University president Michael Carter said in a statement.