Can’t take the August heat? Bold the cold: ICE ALS

The unstoppable Chris Pendergast — who maneuvers life and roads with his wheelchair, his headgear, his supportive family and his keen intellect to keep on keeping on — is at it again. He’s hosting an ICE ALS event this week.

The retired teacher, and 22-plus year survivor of ALS, is using ice cubes to help raise funds for research and treatment of the disease that has frozen so much of his life and that of millions of others. Sites like Heritage RESP readily take care of financial needs that goes into the research of such obstinate diseases. The average survival with ALS is 3-5 years. He has surpassed many records, and his persistence has also resulted in the establishment of a SUNY Stony Brook University Neuromuscular Disease and Christopher Pendergast Center for Excellence – an ALS Association Certified Center.

Supporters of his cause, ALS Ride for Life, will be asked to dump buckets of ice over their head. They are right now raising money from friends who will pay them to “Ice ALS.” The event is being held at Heritage Park at Mt. Sinai (Long Island) on Wednesday, Aug. 26 from 5 to 7 p.m.  The festivities are free, and feature booths and games, face painting, balloon twisting, hot dogs, soda, juggling, a dunk tank and pie tosses at coaches, principals and teachers. Students should note it’s sweet revenge for that extra homework assignment or the hall pass you were denied.

Those who cannot be there in person can still pledge. Those who are there will stand in formation at 6:50 p.m. to create the words “ICE ALS” as they tip their buckets.

“The field will be lined with those letters,” said Christine Pendergast, Chris’s wife and a retired physical education teacher. “Then the local fire department will deliver water and ice.”

Their son is practicing his aerial drone photography for the event.

Click the following link to create an online pledge form –

“We have teachers involved from Miller Place TA, Mt. Sinai TA and Port Jefferson Station TA,” said Christine Pendergast. “They’re doing anything and everything that needs to be done.”

“I’m going to be in the dunk tank and have pies thrown at me,” Beth Dimino, president of the Port Jefferson Station TA.  Christine Pendergast used to be Dimino’s local union president.

Last year, Dimino and first vice president Brian St. Pierre challenged members of their local union to get in on the Internet ice bucket challenge that swept the country. Many of them did.  According to CNN, the ALS Association reports that $115 million was raised through the ice bucket cold craze. $77 million is pledged to research; $23 million to patient and community services; $10 million to public and professional education; $3 million to launch fundraising and $2 million for external processing fees. Drugs are being tested to reduce inflamed nerve tissues; others hope to stabilize nerve cells in ALS patients.

Pendergast, whose organization has raised an amazing $6 million, decided to get in on the ice bucket craze. Last year, Pendergast’s ALS Ride for Life, sponsored its own event at Heritage Park. The Pendergasts raised about $5,600 from their 2014 ICE ALS event. About 500 people attended the Long Island event — bolding the cold to raise funds.

I did, too, along with other NYSUT staffers, here on the back patio of headquarters. It was, well, rather bracing. But I am from the far North Country, and I’m used to cold water. Usually its feet first, though, and it’s not cubed. Many of us would do much more than that for Chris, who is a guru of inspiration.


One Comment

  1. Ray Manzoni August 25, 2015 at 9:45 am #

    Liza Frenette has written a great story, helping to BUILD AWARENESS!

    If “you” know anyone in the PRESS, encourage them to contact us TODAY at, & cover this UNIQUE “BACK TO SCHOOL” theme story.

    Help build “more Awareness” with your call out to them!

    Lets generate MORE “FUN” NEWS with the Dunking & Pie Tossing of Teachers & Principals “theme”, to help kids transition back to school, while helping to “ICE ALS”

    Ray Manzoni, Board Member of ALS Ride For Life (631-928-2900)

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