Sixth graders at Lynbrook North Middle School learned the true meaning of never giving up during a visit from longtime amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patient and activist Chris Pendergast on April 17. Mr. Pendergast founded the ALS Ride for Life organization after he was diagnosed to teach others about ALS and raise money for research and services for patients and their families.
Unable to speak due to the debilitating neurodegenerative disease, Ride for Life volunteer April Victor helped Mr. Pendergast tell his story to the students which he shared through a computer. Ms. Victor educated students on how ALS affects a person and their families and provided facts about the disease. Mr. Pendergast reflected on when he was diagnosed and his drive to fight. He told students that instead of complaining about his situation, he decided to be part of the solution and since then, has made it his mission to find a cure for ALS.
The students learned more about Ride for Life through an inspiring and motivational video. The video featured media clips of Mr. Pendergast riding in his electric wheelchair from Yankee Stadium to Washington, D.C. Since then, the Ride for Life event has become an annual tradition for the organization as Mr. Pendergast and fellow ALS patients ride throughout the New York City and Long Island area to raise awareness. The video also showcased the support of schools who welcome Mr. Pendergast each year during his ride, including Lynbrook North Middle School.
“Over the years of doing the ride, ordinary students like yourselves, along with your teachers and community, have helped me raise over eight million dollars,” he said.
This year, the Lynbrook North Middle School community will raise money for ALS research before Mr. Pendergast’s next ride on May 6. At the conclusion of his inspiring presentation, he reminded students to never give up, never lose hope, always remain optimistic and be willing to defy the odds no matter what they may be.
“I hope these messages will help you in your own hour of challenge,” he said. “If it does then this time spent together will not have been wasted and my journey more worthwhile. It is through helping others that we help ourselves.”