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ALS patients ride from Riverhead to NYC

Ride For Life founder Christopher Pendergast, who was diagnosed in 1993 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis  — commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease — will again take part in the annual ride from Riverhead to Manhattan that starts Monday at Riverhead High School.

Pendergast  and about a dozen other ALS patients are expected to ride their motorized wheelchairs on a 12-day trip which is planned to end on May 21.

Pendergast, 62, was an elementary school teacher in Miller Place when he was diagnosed with the disease.

He created the not-for-profit Ride For Life corporation in 1998 to raise awareness about the disease, and his fundraising efforts have brought in more than $1.5 million since it was created.

There is no known cure for ALS, a fatal disease which causes the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to waste away.

As it progresses, patients lose the ability to control their muscles and to breathe on their own. Pendergast, who recently gave an inspirational talk at Riverhead High School, will be accompanied by members of the school’s student government when the trip starts, and the students are selling bracelets for $3 to raise money for his group.

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