Anthony Senerchia Jr., a man who helped to start the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (viral fame) in 2014 has died Saturday at his age of 46 after living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, for 14 years.
Senerchia was first diagnosed with ALS in 2003, after marrying his high school love, Jeanette in the same year.
“It’s a difficult disease and tough when you’re losing, your body is failing you,” Jeanette said in an interview with the Journal. “But he was a fighter … . He was our light. He made our life better.”
Senerchia first became tied to the fundraising challenge that went viral after his wife’s cousin, pro golfer Chris Kennedy, was selected to take part in the ice bucket challenge in its early stages. At that point, it wasn’t yet connected with a specific charity — it instead challenged individuals to dump buckets of ice water over their heads to raise money for a charity of the person’s choice, before nominating others to do the same. Kennedy, when selected to take part, chose ALS as his cause, in honor of Senerchia.
The campaign raised over $100m within 30 days, and would go on to full fund a number of research projects. Including one which led to an important scientific breakthrough.
In his obituary his family said: “He worked tirelessly to raise awareness for ALS and was directly responsible for the world-renowned Ice bucket challenge.”
Anthony become an inspiration for the viral challenge after his wife’s cousin, golfer Chris Kennedy, was nominated to take part in an ‘ice bucket’ challenge, which was not specifically connected to the disease. Deciding to take part, Kennedy said he would do it to raise money for ASL and passed the challenge on; from there it spread and spread.
Anthony went on to set up his own charity, the Anthony Senerchia Jr. ALS Charitable Foundation, which donated money to the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center for ALS research, as well as to families who were going through hardships due to ASL.
The obituary continues: “Anthony will be remembered as a fireball who tried everything in life. 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 leaves behind his wife Jeanette and daughter Taya.