Hundreds of ninth graders lined the front driveway at the Massapequa High School Ames Campus on May 9 as the ALS Ride For Life came through. The students were there to raise awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Ride For Life was founded in 1997 by Christopher Pendergast as he was battling ALS, and the first wheelchair ride took place a year later. Every year, ALS patients, ride their power wheelchairs across Long Island to help raise funds for a cure.
Ames students held signs of support as Ride For Life arrived a little after 10 a.m. Principal Tania Willman noted the primary message of the event is hope. That’s why the school has been a stop on the ride for several years. Before Ames, the ride also passed by Unqua Elementary School.
This year’s ride featured two “road warriors” who are battling ALS along with other representatives from the organization. They emphasized to students their belief that a cure is out there and that it would eventually be found. Thanks to the effort of students, more than $10 million has been raised for ALS research since Ride For Life began.
Members of student government followed the road warriors, holding up banners that honored people who lost their lives from ALS. They also presented Ride For Life with a $150 donation from a lollipop sale fundraiser they held during lunch periods. Class officers, as well as students from the National Junior Honor Society, Chiefs Challenge and the Career and Community Connections class, made the signs and posters.
In March, Barbara Brown and Paul Weisman attended an Honor Society meeting to talk about ALS Ride For Life, explain the mission of the organization and educate students about the disease. Mr. Weisman, who has ALS and was part of the May 9 ride, inspired students with his message of overcoming adversity.
Ames students said that Ride For Life was a touching event and they hope that it helps make a difference.
“It’s a disease that not many people know about,” said student government Vice President Olivia Mazzola. “It’s something that we need to get a cure for soon.”
Keira Stealey said it was inspiring to see how people battling a disease as serious as ALS can still maintain a positive mindset. As a student, it gives her perspective on overcoming challenges. Kiera Conaghan added that she was glad the student government could do a small part by hosting a fundraiser to help raise money for a cure.
1: Two road warriors, who are battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, were part of the ALS Ride For Life which passed by the Massapequa High School Ames Campus on May 9.
2: Ames student government officers presented a $150 donation to ALS Ride For Life.
3: Ride For Life was led by a Massapequa fire truck as it arrived at the Ames Campus.
4: Students show their support for people battling ALS.
Photos courtesy of the Massapequa School District