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Stony Brook Athletes and Community Salute ALS Patients “Riding for Life”
16 rocket launch salute at ceremony symbolizes the 16 lives lost to ALS every day; $60,000 raised to support Stony Brook’s Christopher Pendergast ALS Center of Excellence

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Christopher Pendergast, center, and some of the other Riders, are surrounded by Stony Brook University athletes, Stony Brook Medicine leaders, and other supporters at the 2015 Stony Brook University Ride for Life event.

STONY BROOK, N.Y., May 6, 2015 – A chorus of cheers and bagpipers could be heard as patients with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) rode onto the Stony Brook University Campus in their power wheelchairs at the annual Ride for Life event. Stony Brook University athletes escorted the Riders who rode to Stony Brook to take part in the Pinwheel Remembrance Ceremony on May 2, the cornerstone event of the 12-day power wheelchair Ride for Life trek across Long Island that ends in Manhattan on May 9.

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Riders Frank Verdone, center, Christopher Pendergast, and supporters join hands in a show of unity against the disease.

Christopher Pendergast, President and Founder of Ride for Life, and a 22-year ALS patient and advocate, led the way with six other ALS patients as they rode to the ceremony area, where 6,000 pinwheels were displayed. The pinwheels symbolize the lives lost to ALS each year. At the Pinwheel Remembrance Ceremony, the names of 90 patients lost to ALS were read aloud. The 90 names, requested by their family members to be read, also represent the fact that every 90 minutes someone dies from ALS. A candle was lit for each individual in their memory. Supporters from Stony Brook Medicine gathered with the family and friends of patients to celebrate hope – as symbolized by the pinwheels that a cure for ALS is ‘blowin in the wind.’

“ALS is a remarkable challenge to physicians and neuroscientists, but this is an exciting time in
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Approximately 25 Stony Brook University athletes from the basketball and volleyball teams trekked onto campus in a show of support for the heroic ALS patient Riders.
the Neurosciences and through research we continue to seek better treatments and hopefully a cure,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, Senior Vice President, Health Sciences, and Dean of the Stony Brook University School of Medicine. “We are all here today to join together in hope and strive to make ALS a tragedy of the past.”

During the ceremony, a $60,000 donation was announced to the Ride for Life on behalf of the ALS Association, Greater New York Chapter. The funds will be used to support clinical services and research at Stony Brook’s Christopher Pendergast ALS Center of Excellence, the only ALS Association-certified center on Long Island.

Keynote speaker Al Jordan, a Ride for Life committee member and Associate Dean of Student & Minority Affairs in the School of Medicine, had attendees join hands as a sign of  unity to fight against ALS and hope for a cure. A recitation prayer by the Reverend Rich Allen of Sayville United Methodist Church added to the spirit of hope at the event.

The ceremony closed with a jolt into the sky – as a 16-rocket launch salute took place. The “spirit salutes,” as they were referred to, symbolized the 16 lives lost to ALS every day.

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6,000 pinwheels displayed on the Stony Brook University Campus symbolize the annual lives lost to ALS.





Reporter Contact:
Gregory Filiano
Media Relations
631 444-9343
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