Deacon with ALS takes ice bucket challenge

By Heather Leigh, Mobile journalist, hleigh@wjxt.com
Chris Robbins, Evening newscast producer, crobbins@wjxt.com
Published On: Aug 24 2014 11:02:49 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 25 2014 12:16:03 AM EDT

30 thousand people are living with ALS in the United states. Thousands of people have been taking to social media, posting ice bucket challenges to raise awareness. Channel 4's Heather Leigh shows us where members of a local church decided to take on the challenge in honor of their Deacon - a man recently diagnosed with the disease.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Thousands have been dumping ice water on their heads to raise awareness about ALS. It's been a viral sensation with videos posted all over Facebook.

On Sunday, members of St. John The Divine Greek Orthodox Church decided to take the challenge in honor of their deacon, who was recently diagnosed with the disease.

It was all hands on deck, filling dozens of buckets with water and ice. It's a bittersweet few seconds of happiness and shock to take your mind off the real reason behind the challenge -- ALS.

The disease affects nearly 30,000 people in the U.S.

Deacon Michael Koloniotis was recently diagnosed, which is why members of his church came out to show love and support.

"It is difficult, I take it a day at a time," Koloniotis said. "Whatever God wants, we can not change it. God asking (something) for everything. I have hope, I keep faith and I pray. Maybe can't stop it, maybe something come up. I can't give up that easy. I believe strong."

Deacon Michael's wife, Karen, said the diagnosis has only made them stronger as a couple, although she admits the disease is painful to watch.

"It's been rough. It's happened so quickly and you don't even get time to adjust to one thing before you're hit with something else," she said.

"We love him, I know that we'll be praying for God's mercy and healing for him as we do for all with ALS," said Chris Regas, who also participated.

Last year the ALS Association raised $2.5 million between July 29 and Aug. 24. This year during the same time period, more than $70 million has been raised. The donations go toward research and helping families with ALS.

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