UK
01/06/2015 13:20 BST | Updated 02/06/2015 03:59 BST

Motor Neurone Disease Association Ice Bucket Challenge Poster Really Misses The Mark

An advertising campaign designed to raise awareness of motor neurone disease has received a strong backlash from commuters.

This week, the Motor Neurone Disease Association unveiled three posters placed at Underground and National Rail stations.

One advert tells the story of 34-year-old Michael, who says that he was the only one of his friends who did not take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge last summer.

The challenge, which started in America, became an internet sensation when celebrities started nominating their friends to throw freezing water over themselves in a bid to raise awareness and money for The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association.

In bold letters, the main text leading the billboard reads: "Last summer, I was the only person I knew who didn't do the Ice Bucket Challenge. Five months later I was diagnosed with motor neurone disease."

Michael's words have created a backlash on Twitter, with many users criticising the campaign for suggesting that getting the disease is "karma" for not participating in the challenge.

Motor neuron disease is a rare condition that progressively damages parts of the nervous system. There is no known cure and many suffers die within a few years of diagnosis.

Stephen Hawking has defied scientists and is still living with the condition more than 50 years after being diagnosed.

stephen hawking

Stephen Hawking was first diagnosed with the condition when he was 21 years old. He was not expected to live beyond his 25th birthday

The Motor Neurone Disease Association's Director of External Affairs, Chris James, told The Huffington Post UK that some people's reaction to the campaign has come as a shock to the charity and he said that they never intended to suggest that those who did not do the challenge would get the disease.

He said: "We thought that Michael's story was very powerful and poignant and certainly at no point did we suggest that if you didn't do the Ice Bucket Challenge you would get motor neurone disease.

"What we were aiming to do on the campaign posters on the Underground and National Rail was show how indiscriminate it is across all communities. It's a devastating condition.

"This year was the last chance to talk to an audience about the Ice Bucket Challenge."

Mr James said that the charity was trying to tell people some more about motor neuron disease and added that, with the "excitement" of last year's challenge, some of those messages about the disease might have got lost.

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Michael's story is one of three posters that have been places at tube stations on the London Underground and National Rail.

Mr James said he first read about Michael's story in the Leicester Mercury.

In the article, Michael discusses his recent wedding and the shock of being diagnosed with motor neurone disease just months after the Ice Bucket Challenge became an internet sensation.

Michael tells the paper: “I reckon I was probably one of the only people who didn’t do it.”

The article reads: "All this, he says, half-joking, it’s karma. And Michael rolls his eyes and laughs, and his friend David Moss laughs and his wife, Tracy, laughs along, too."

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Famous People Doing The 'Ice Bucket Challenge'
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