WOODBURY - As ALS patients travel across Long Island each year in the Ride for Life, they not only raise awareness for the debilitating disease, but also raise much needed funds for research.

In 16 years since the ride started, it has raised more than $4.5 million. That money is used for cutting-edge research and Long Island patient services. This year, East End chef and ALS patient Gerry Hayden is riding for the first time. He says he was able to benefit from the funds.

“That money that he’s [Chris Pendergast’s] been raising all this time, I get to benefit from because I’m the first person to get that operation done at Stony Brook,” Hayden says.

The groundbreaking operation is called diaphamatic pacing, which works similar to how a pace maker works. Hayden says five months ago his voice was very low due to the disease, which he was diagnosed with two years ago. Hayden believes that Ride for Life has helped extend his own life.  He adds that he hopes to use his voice to add to the calls for a cure, which is why he is joined the ride this year.

Click on the videos on the left or go to channel 612 and click on News 12 Extra for extended interviews with Hayden and his wife.