The Ride for Life visited E.M. Baker School on May 10 on its annual journey from Montauk to Manhattan to raise awareness for ALS, and the Baker community presented a $1,327 donation to support a cure for the disease.
Baker School has been a stop on the Ride for the past six years. Each year, the Ride for Life founder Christopher Pendergast travels up the school’s driveway in his electric wheelchair, surrounded by his fellow ALS patients and supporters, while fourth and fifth graders stand outside the school to cheer them on. The students hold handmade signs and chant, “Strike Out ALS,” and “Find a Cure.”
Christopher Pendergast has worked as a patient advocate and been determined to find a cure for ALS. Pendergast has also been a major inspiration to Baker teacher Christopher Lynch, but for different reasons—Pendergast was Lynch’s elementary teacher in the Northport-East Northport School District.
“Mr. Pendergast was one of those educators who inspired and touched each and every one of the students who were fortunate enough to have him,” Lynch said. “He is a huge reason as to why I am a teacher today.”
Pendergast was diagnosed with ALS when Lynch was in first grade. As a student, Lynch participated in the Ride every year from elementary through high school. As a teacher at Baker School, Lynch is proud to continue his support for the program along with students and his fellow faculty members.
This year, Baker School hosted a “Change for Change Week” to help raise money for the Ride’s mission to find a cure for ALS. The fundraiser initially encouraged donations of loose change; the students and faculty at Baker, through loose change and larger donations, ultimately raised more than $1,300.
Baker students and staff applauded loudly as Lynch presented the donation to Pendergast and the Ride for Life team during their visit.
The Ride for Life was founded in 1997 with the purpose of raising awareness about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The Ride for Life raises funds to support patients and help develop a cure for ALS.