Christopher Pendergast, who has grown into a powerhouse advocating a cure for debilitating Lugeric’s disease, who fought for nearly 30 years, died at his home in Miller Place on Wednesday, according to family and friends. He was 71 years old.
Former Northport elementary school teacher Pendergast was a non-profit charity, Ride for Life Inc., in 1997, four years after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS. Was established.
There is no cure for this disease, which gradually paralyzes the patient and leads to death. However, Pendergast went against that possibility and made tireless efforts to gather and donate millions of people to find a cure and help other ALS patients.
“He was a wonderful man who inspired so many people,” said Telesain Perato, a nurse coordinator at Stony Brook’s ALS Clinic, named after Pendergast. “He devoted his life to helping others and providing a better life at ALS.”
Pendergast is the main force behind the opening of the ALS Clinic in 2002 and is one of the dozens of national clinics accredited by the ALS Association. The clinic offers services including respiratory, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy related to the disease.
Imperato, who knew Pendergast from the time of diagnosis, said 80% of ALS patients would die within 10 years. But Pendergast pulled power out of his defense, which gave him the will to live, she said.
“He was willing to live longer,” Imperato said.
The Pendergast family issued a statement on Wednesday about their beloved father: “He bravely fought ALS for 28 years, dedicating 23 of them. [to] Raise awareness and funding for ALS. He touched so much life, but in the end he happened to be “our dad” who did something amazing. ”
Pendergast’s daughter, Stony Brook’s 43-year-old Melissa Scriven, said she felt lucky to spend the first 15 years of her life sharing her life experience with her compassionate father before her diagnosis on Wednesday night. Told.
“He was everything for our family. It puts his ALS work aside,” Scriven said while her voice broke from emotions. “He didn’t want our life to be ALS, his plight, our life. We all just jumped in because we loved him so much.” She said.
She was amazed at her father’s non-stop work after diagnosis and determined early on that his father lived longer than most ALS patients.
“He will always say,’I have to earn what I’m getting now.’ He wanted to do something to show up to ALS. He said ALS diagnosed you. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t the only thing that was done, and three years later you landed on the ground and did nothing about it. “
Scriben said her family did not change anything about her father’s journey, or that they were helping him along the way. She said it brought them closer.
She also said that the illness had a physical effect on her father, but did not touch her father’s heart, as evidenced by living in his own conditions.
“His mind was completely intact. He was a 100% functioning mind and became somewhat prisoner in his own body,” said Scriven. “He did it the way he wanted to, as Frank Sinatra says. He did it his way.”
According to the organizers, Pendergast’s annual Ride for Life has helped raise $ 10 million over the years. During the event, Pendergast rode an electric wheelchair for hundreds of miles. The longest charity ride was a more than two-week trek of 350 miles from Gaelic’s tomb in Valhalla, New York to the capital.
Ray Manzoni, chairman of the Ride for Life nonprofit, said in a statement that Pendergast was “a person of special compassion and affectionate faith.”
Kristenkokomann, president and chief executive officer of the Manhattan-based ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, said he had known Pendergast and his family for nearly 20 years.
“He will advocate locally on behalf of the ALS community. It’s something you can’t quantify and it’s valuable,” Cocoman said.
Kokoman said Pendergast was an inspiration for himself and others to fight for treatment.
“I will continue to fight. We owe it to Chris and everyone else who went before him.”
Pendergast’s memoir, “The Blink Spoken Here,” describes his decades of fighting illness. He talked about this book on Newsday in July. Written in high-tech software over the years, he shared his thoughts by looking at two infrared cameras that track his eyes, determine where he’s looking on the screen, and allow him to: I did. Enter his thoughts.
Visits will be held on Sundays at Mirror Place’s OB Davis Funeral Home from 1 pm to 4 pm and from 6 pm to 9 pm with a limit of 60 people. At 8:30 pm, there will be a live-streamed service on the funeral home website ObdavismillerPlace.com.
The funeral mass will take place on Monday at 10 am at the St. Louis Demonfort RC Church on Sound Beach.
In addition to Scriben, Pendergast has survived by Miller Place’s wife Christine Pendergast, Miller Place’s son Buddy Pendergast, and grandson Patrick Scari.
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