Living with ALS: the final chapter - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Living with ALS: the final chapter

Keith Kopka at the Super Bowl. (Source: Megan Kopka) Keith Kopka at the Super Bowl. (Source: Megan Kopka)
"Team Kopka" at Ashley High School (Source: Angela Holcombe) "Team Kopka" at Ashley High School (Source: Angela Holcombe)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Over the past few years, WECT has followed the struggles of a Wilmington man suffering from ALS, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

Keith Kopka died Monday from complications of that disease. He was 45 years old.

In 2011, we showed volunteer crews remodel Keith's home to accommodate his needs as he was limited to a wheel chair. Door throughout the home were widened by three inches and the bathroom was completely rebuilt.

More impressively, access ramps were built so Keith could even head to Ashley High School to coach the track team from his wheelchair.

Despite not having function in his legs, Keith was able to still coach his team through all of their ups and downs.

"Every day you wake up and hope for the best," Keith said in a previous report. "I've never quit in my life; I'm not starting now. And that's what I want to hopefully pass on to my children."

While coaching at Ashley High School, Keith took the team to the state championships two years in a row.

Most recently we covered Keith's trip to the Super Bowl in NY/NJ. It had always been his dream to see the big game, so a group of his friends in the St. James community rallied together to make his dream a reality.

Following Keith's journey shed light on the challenges of everyday tasks that many take for granted, like getting out of bed in the morning. His hope is to make things easier for ALS patients and to get the help and equipment they need.

Keith leaves behind a wife and two children. His sister is Carolina in the Morning Anchor Kim Ratcliff.

A memorial service will be held for Keith Friday evening at Port City Community Church in Wilmington.

The Wilmington Walk to Defeat ALS is scheduled for Saturday, April 26, 2014.

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