One of our local heroes here in Miller Place is Chris Pendergast. He has had ALS for more than 18 years. ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and is also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is named after one of the best players in baseball history, who died from ALS. The disease makes it hard for your muscles to control your body. The cause of ALS is unknown to scientists. All over the world people have taken charge in the fight against ALS, starting movements such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to help.

There are certain treatments that can help ALS:

BREATHING CARE Over time, you’ll have more difficulty breathing as your muscles become weaker.

PHYSICAL THERAPY A physical therapist can help with pain, walking, mobility, bracing and equipment needs.

SPEECH THERAPY Because ALS affects the muscles you use to speak, communication becomes an issue as the disease progresses.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY An occupational therapist can help you compensate for hand and arm weakness in a manner that helps you to keep your independence for as long as possible.

PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL SUPPORT Your team may include a social worker to help with financial issues, insurance, and getting equipment and paying for devices you may need. Psychologists, social workers and others may provide emotional support for you and your family.

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Living with this disease is not just painful for the people who have it, but their families as well. The survival rate is usually three to five years. Chris Pendergast has outlived doctors’ expectations for 18 years. In 1998 he started Ride for Life to raise money for ALS. He rode his electric scooter from Yankee Stadium to Washington D.C.; it took 16 days. Today the Ride for Life has moved to Long Island and has raised $3.5 million, making Chris a true hero. For more information about the Ride For Life visit: alsrideforlife.org