Caring About a Cure
Caring About a Cure for ALS
Ride For Life: A Journey of Awareness in Sayville
Chanting “Strike Out ALS” at the top of their lungs Sunrise Drive Elementary students stood along the bus loop waiting and waving their posters as high as their enthusiasm. Theirs might have been the last Sayville school in the Ride For Life Journey of Awareness that day, but they were certainly not the least. The entire Sunrise Drive community showed tremendous support when the Riders and volunteers rolled up. Greetings were exchanged, introductions made, and encouraging words about finding a cure were shared by the Riders.
Ride For Life visited Sunrise Drive again this year to honor one of their own. Tom Coleman, a former Sunrise Drive graduate, had ridden in his wheelchair for the cause until he passed away several years ago. He was the uncle of current Sunrise Drive students Juliette and Beatrice. When Beatrice was a kindergarten student in Donna Morisie’s class, the Riders, who included the girls’ parents, had made a special visit to honor their uncle. Each year, the Ride For Life stops at Sunrise in his memory.
“This year, we formed a ALS Committee,” Mrs. Morisie explained. “MaryPat Holler, Tracey Pattilio, Keri Athan, Sharon Donnelly, and Christine Engelbert all helped me to organize the fundraising. I couldn’t have done it without them!”
Now a Second grade teacher at Sunrise, Donna Morisie came forward with Juliette and presented Chris Pendergast with a check. “These two girls helped care for their uncle and saw the devastating effects firsthand,” Mrs. Morisie added. “That is why it touched my heart so deeply.”
Many hearts at Sunrise Drive were touched as well. The total raised by the Sunrise Drive’s bracelet sales exceeded $600.
Since the first Ride For Life was launched in 1998 by Chris Pendergast, every year in May, during ALS Awareness Month, ALS patients, their caregivers, and some of their greatest supporters continue the tradition to make a special trek on foot and in wheelchairs through towns, villages, and school districts, bringing awareness and raising funds for a cure. For many years, Sayville schools have been part of this journey to help loved ones battling the disease of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Although each building has brought awareness in different ways, the goal has always been united—to support the research to find a cure!