Pasco News

Ice bucket challenge leaves Pasco leaders cold

The ALS ice bucket challenge, which is sweeping the nation and the world, has soaked some prominent Pasco County residents as well.

Vonnie Mikkelsen, executive director of the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce, took the challenge Tuesday afternoon in front of the chamber office, where her husband, Dennis, and Darrell Pennington, a chamber board member, stood on stepladders and each dumped a bucket of ice water on her.

Kurt Browning, the superintendent of Pasco County schools, also took the challenge, dumping the freezing water on himself just outside district headquarters in Land O’ Lakes.

“Mother of pearl,” Browning exclaimed after the drenching.

Mikkelsen had been challenged by Kevin Bahr of Bahr’s Propane Gas & A/C Inc. Before the cold shower, Mikkelsen called out five people to take the challenge.

They are Zephyrhills City Manager Steve Spina; Skydive City owner TK Hayes; 1st Sgt. Jimmy McAuley of the Zephyrhills High School Junior ROTC; John Moors, executive director of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce; and Zephyrhills businessman Tim Linville of EZ Clean Car.

Browning said he agreed to the self-drenching after being challenged by three elementary schools — Gulf Trace, Oakstead and Sand Pine — along with Kari Kadlub, the principal at Pasco High School.

Browning, in turn, passed on the challenge to three school district employees: Linda Cobbe, director of communications; Christine Pejot, director of human resources; and Julie Hedine, director of food and nutrition services.

The ice bucket challenge has gone international and to multiple levels of society. Former President George W. Bush took the challenge and the called on “my friend Bill Clinton” to do the same.

According to the ALS Association website, the challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. Those who refuse to take the challenge are asked to make a donation to the ALS charity of their choice. People can also both endure the dousing and donate to ALS.

The ALS Association reports it has received $41.8 million in donations since July 29, compared to $2.1 million during the same period last year.

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is often called Lou Gehrig’s disease. The progressive neuro-degenerative disease affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

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