Inspirational Former Northport Teacher Raises Awareness for ALS

Inspirational Former Northport Teacher Raises Awareness for ALS photo
Inspirational Former Northport Teacher Raises Awareness for ALS photo 2
Inspirational Former Northport Teacher Raises Awareness for ALS photo 3

Former Northport teacher and local inspiration Chris Pendergast recently visited schools throughout the district. Mr. Pendergast has been fighting Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, for many years. He is a remarkable and tenacious individual who is using his illness to help raise awareness for the ALS cause, and hopes to contribute to one day finding a cure.

During each assembly, Dick Iannuzzi, the president of the New York State United Teachers and a friend of Mr. Pendergast’s, introduced himself and Mr. Pendergast to the students. Mr. Iannuzzi travels with Mr. Pendergast to be his voice, and to contribute to spreading awareness for ALS. He encouraged the children to make observations and hypotheses about Mr. Pendergast’s condition, and students had many questions.

“How did you feel when you found out you had the disease?” a fifth-grade student from Bellerose Avenue Elementary School asked.

“At first, I was sad, angry, and frustrated,” Mr. Pendergast said. “But when I decided to dedicate my life to helping other people, I realized that I was helping myself, too. And I’m much less sad now.”

While Mr. Iannuzzi presented, Mr. Pendergast was able to interject using a special computer attached to his wheelchair. This computer enabled him to type using his eyes, and to speak with a computerized voice. Students were amazed at this technology and at his ability to type quickly using only his eyes.

Mr. Iannuzzi shared Mr. Pendergast’s story, informing students about his initial symptoms, the effects of the disease, and how miraculous it is the Mr. Pendergast is still able to travel around to spread awareness. In addition, he explained Ride for Life – the charity that Mr. Pendergast formed four years after he was diagnosed with ALS.

“Chris is living proof that if you dedicate your life to a cause, you can make a difference,” said Mr. Iannuzzi.