Atwater business owners take ice bucket challenge for ALS

While the ice bucket challenge has been sweeping the nation, Atwater businesses also took notice this week, performing the challenge to raise money for research and care for those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

TLC Postal Center owner Chris Coffelt, 51, was challenged by his cousin, Kim McCall Camp, of Glen Burnie, Md. through Facebook. Coffelt, in turn, issued the challenge to employee Kelli Taylor, 22, of Ink and Stitches, another business in the Bellevue Shopping Center. Then Ink and Stitches challenged Dean Louis, 54, of Atwater Glass. “We all stood up to take the challenge. We said we’re all going to do this and donate to ALS,” said Coffelt.

Shirlee Frey, of Frey Realty, a realtor for 40 years, took the challenge and showed up with a donation of $250, while passing the challenge along to all realtors in Merced and Atwater. In all, the Atwater businesses thus far have raised $500 for the ALS Association.

According to the ALS Association’s website, “ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis.” According to their latest numbers, as of Tuesday, the ALS Association has received “$22.9 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 19). These donations have come from existing donors and 453,210 new donors to The Association.”

“It’s a good cause for Lou Gherig’s disease,” said Chris Coffelt. “I’d like to encourage everybody to donate, even if it’s a dollar, to ALS, and I’d like our community to support our small businesses here as well,” he added.

Noe Reyes of Reyes Cellular and and Satellite also took challenge, as did barber Ocie Owens of Atwater Hair Designers. Coffelt’s daughter Amanda, 20, an employee of Pinocchio’s Restaurant in Merced, took the challenge and issued it to her fellow employees.

“I’m going to challenge all of my co-workers at Pinnochio’s. I feel like if I could go through this, then all of you guys can go through this. It’s for a good cause. So let’s support ALS, and show what we can do,” said Amanda Cofelt. In regard to the experience she said, “It felt good because I knew I was doing it for a good cause, but I didn’t expect it to be that cold.”

Chris Coffelt ended his ice bucket challenge by challenging yet another group to donate. “I am publicly challenging the entire Atwater (High) varsity football team to do this on their field, and to donate to ALS.” He also said that if anyone comes into his store to ship using UPS and mentions his ice bucket challenge, he will donate $1 from the shipment to ALS.