ALS Ride for Life founder Chris Pendergast dies
Chris Pendergast, the founder of the ALS Ride for Life, has died. He was 71.
For over two decades, Pendergast defied odds and helped to raise awareness and money to find a cure for the disease.
News 12 was sent a statement from the Pendergast family:
"Our dad, despite all odds, lived life just how he wanted until his last morning. He fought ALS bravely for 28 years and dedicated 23 of those years raising awareness and funds for ALS. He touched so many lives but at the end of the day, he was just "our dad" who happened to do remarkable things. He passed peacefully at our home surrounded by his family just as he wanted. We thank everyone for all of their wishes and prayers. And remember: never give up, never lose hope, always remain optimistic, and be willing to defy the odds."
The former Miller Place teacher was diagnosed with ALS in 1993 and was told he only had three years to live. He ended up living with the disease for 28 years.
He founded ALS Ride for Life in 1997, riding his electric scooter from Yankee Stadium to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness for the disease. After three years, he brought the ride to Long Island.
News 12 has reported extensively on Pendergast's journey over the years. In one of those stories, he said:
"I want to make a difference. I want the extra few years I have to count for something."
Longtime friends and ALS Ride for Life Chairman Ray Manzoni witnessed Pendergast's work from day one.
"Along the way, over $10 million has been raised for ALS research and patient services. And so what a testament to someone who chose to make a difference, and how that helps us here on Long Island," says Manzoni.
Paul Weisman, of Bohemia, was diagnosed with ALS in 2013. A year later, he joined the Ride for Life journey, learning lessons from its leader along the way.
"Those were the four mantras that we live by in the Ride for Life: Never give up. Never lose hope. Always remain optimistic. And be willing to defy the odds," says Weisman.