If you were present on the internet at all during 2014, you almost definitely saw something about the ALS Ice Bucket challenge. Created as a way to bring awareness and research funding regarding this absolutely crippling condition, the challenge, in which someone would dump a bucket of ice-cold water on themselves and challenge others to do the same, became a massive viral sensation on the internet almost overnight.
While some were initially skeptical about the validity of the challenge and whether it would actually create any good, they were soon humbled by the fact that participants in the Ice Bucket Challenge raised nearly $200 million for ALS research, some of the highest fundraising stats ever seen for the absolutely horrendous condition.
It was a time of celebration that brought people together against a foe that could very easily strike at any one of them at any time, and it served as a great reminder of what people could accomplish when they banded together for the greater good. Unfortunately though, even 17 million videos can only do so much: ALS is still very much a thing, and the people who suffer from it still have very little time on this Earth.
As such, it's with great sadness that the news comes that Anthony Senerchia, one of the main inspirations for the challenge, has passed away at the age of 46...
Senerchia was first diagnosed with ALS back in 2003, shortly after marrying his wife, Jeanette Hane. Both of them were devastated by the news, especially considering that doctors told Senerchia he only had a few years to live. Despite this, he was able to power through and managed to hold out for a whopping 14 years past his diagnosis.
“It’s a difficult disease and tough when you’re losing,” said Jeanette in a statement. “Your body is failing you. But he was a fighter…He was our light. He made our life better.”
According to his obituary, Senerchia created the Anthony Senerchia Jr. ALS Charitable Foundation, which helped fund research at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center for ALS research and aided families affected by the disease. However, his greatest contribution to the cause would come in 2014, when Jeanette's cousin filmed himself doing an Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS awareness and research.
Local people immediately linked the challenge to Anthony, who would become one of several public faces of the phenomenon, along with another ALS sufferer named Pete Frates. Once people had faces to relate to the disease, the challenge took off like a rocket.
“Anthony will be remembered as a fireball who tried everything in life,” his obituary reads. “He was family oriented, generous and always ready to lend a helping hand. He was a great husband, a proud father, a loving son and a great brother. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.”
Anthony is survived by his wife Jeanette, his daughter Taya, his parents, his brothers, and a large extended family. We wish them all the best during this difficult time.