The corner of Grandview Boulevard and Lower Rocky Point Road in Miller Place will now have a sign saying Pendergast Path in honor of the street’s former resident and founder of ALS Ride For Life.
Local officials, friends and family joined together on Monday, June 21, next to the street sign to remember Pendergast’s legacy and honor his efforts in the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — a degenerative neurological disease that ultimately leads to a loss of muscle control throughout the body, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Monday was Global ALS Awareness Day.
“What a beautiful day to have this event,” said Ray Manzoni, president of ALS Ride For Life. “We’ve got somebody up there keeping an eye on us.”
Pendergast died on Oct. 14, 2020, after a 28-year battle with the disease. His nonprofit has helped raise more than $10 million in research for ALS.
During the annual Ride For Life, Pendergast was known to ride his motorized wheelchair hundreds of miles to raise funds and awareness of the disease. His longest ride was 350 miles in two weeks.
“He defied the odds in so many ways, his endurance was remarkable,” Manzoni said. “He was extraordinary.”
Pendergast, a former teacher in the Northport school district, was told he only would have a few years to live after his diagnosis. He beat the odds and spent over two decades educating people on the disease and devoting his life to helping others.
His daughter, Melissa Scriven, told the crowd of people that the ALS Ride For Life board started in their house on Grandview Boulevard. Team meetings were held in the kitchen, and the dining room became an office. In 1991, the family moved to the street and two short years later he was diagnosed.
“Our lives were forever changed — dreams for this new house and our new life were shot,” she said. “But only briefly … his positive attitude and optimism shaped how we would handle this ALS diagnosis. We were a team and we’re going to live with this disease — and live we did.”
Scriven said her father adored this house.
“It’s quite fitting that he lived on Grandview Boulevard,” she said. “My dad would for sure say that he was blessed with a grand view of the goodness of humanity, of the loyalty of friends, of the generosity of strangers and the grandest view of all, the love of his family.”
As part of a street renaming, the Town of Brookhaven requires an individual to have provided the town with an outstanding service.
And that he did.
Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) presented the Pendergast family with a proclamation from the town shortly before the curtain unveiled Pendergast Path. Bonner said she had a special connection to the day’s event.
“My grandfather died from ALS in the early 1980s, long before anybody really knew what ALS was,” she said. “I have learned so much about ALS because of Chris, because of this organization and because of the people with ALS that really don’t ever let you forget that this disease should not be forgotten, that we need a tremendous amount of research dollars.”
She added there is a lot of time to make up due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People need to be as generous as possible because there are many more people suffering and so we must find a cure,” she said. “And I can think of no person that deserves this honor more than Chris.”
Pendergast’s wife, Christine, was honored to have her husband’s name across the green sign.
“I think he would be grinning ear to ear,” she told TBR News Media. “He took his ALS bike to the streets, literally, and we now have a street named after him. I think it’s a very fitting way to honor him and his work.”