MADISON, Wis. -

It's a phenomenon that has gone viral across the country and has spread right here in southern Wisconsin; from local law enforcement, to the UW-Madison football team, and has even hit the News 3 newsroom. It's called the ice bucket challenge and it's all in an effort to raise awareness for ALS.

"It's 100 percent fatal and people lose their ability to talk, to eat, and to move and eventually breathe. People are only able to survive typically between two and five years, " said ALS Chief Communications Officer Carrie Munk.

Lou Gehrig's disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, attacks motor neurons, the cells that control the muscles.

In less than a month the ALS association has received $9.5 million in donations from the challenge. That's $8 million more than the association received last year during the same time period.

"This level of funding really enables us to be innovative and open ups a world of possibilities of how we move our site forward that we never would've had," Munk said.

But it's not the thrill of the chill that has these challengers drenched from head to toe.

"It's a great challenge. A bunch of fun times. It's good for the kids and if you can raise awareness for something, you have got to put your best foot forward," UW football Coach Gary Andersen said.

Andersen along with a group of his players took on the challenge Friday night, but not before paying it forward. Before getting soaked, Andersen challenged UW-Madison Police Chief Susan Riseling and just like that, the challenge and fight continues in battling the disease.

From July 29 to Friday, the ALS Association has had more than 184,000 new donors, largely due to the challenge.

Andersen said even though he did the challenge, he also plans to donate to the cause.