Former Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone dropped in Tuesday’s Town Board meeting to help celebrate the 70th birthday of Chris Pendergast, the former Northport teacher and ALS Ride for Life founder.
Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol led the celebration.
Pendergast has been living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) for 26 years, more than five times the high end of the expected survival rate for that disease. Over that time, he has dedicated his life to raising awareness about ALS and to raising funds for a cure.
Each May, during ALS Awareness Month, ALS Ride for Life, the charity Mr. Pendergast founded, assembles a team of patients in electric wheelchairs or scooters to ride long distances to spread awareness and raise funds. Over the course of two weeks, the delegation visits schools and talks to students, who help escort the caravan from school to school. Pendergast has made Huntington Town Hall a frequent stop on these rides. This year, the 22ndRide for Life will be held from May 6 to May 19.
“Chris, you have set an example not just for your students but for all of us, in showing us how to face adversity with courage and determination, and then transforming all of that into progress. On behalf of the Huntington Town Board, I wish you a happy 70th birthday and look forward to the day, when together, we can celebrate a cure for ALS, with thanks to you,” Councilwoman Cergol said in presenting a proclamation to Mr. Pendergast. He was joined at the dais by his wife, Christine, and Petrone.
Pendergast had requested that Petrone join him; in 2010, the supervisor was instrumental in naming the Town’s first boundless playground at Veterans Park in East Northport “Mr. P’s Playground,” referring to the nickname Mr. Pendergast was given by his Dickinson Avenue School students.
Pendergast, using an electronic device, addressed the meeting. Noting ALS Ride for Life’s first visit to Town Hall, Mr. Pendergast said, “Supervisor Frank Petrone assembled Town employees and graciously embraced my mission to find a cure. Now, all these years later, a new generation of officials are welcoming me again. Thank you for your kindness and support. I am grateful for this recognition, it means a great deal to me. May God bless all of you with good health and may God bless the Town of Huntington.”