PELHAM, N.Y. -- Anthony Senerchia, who lived 14 years with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and served as an early inspiration for the Ice Bucket Challenge, died on Saturday. He was 46.
Senerchia was diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, shortly after marrying his high school sweetheart, Jeanette Hane, in 2003.
The grim diagnosis took a toll on Senerchia’s mind and body but he found inspiration in his daughter, Taya, born nine years ago, his wife said Sunday.
“It’s a difficult disease and tough when you’re losing,” Jeanette Senerchia said. “Your body is failing you. But he was a fighter… He was our light. He made our life better.”
A standout football player at Pelham Memorial High School, Senerchia graduated from Manhattan College with a degree in civil engineering. He worked as a project manager for a New York City construction firm before starting his own contracting business, SCC Construction.
In Pelham, he helped create a youth football league and each year his high school honors an athlete who exhibits character, strength and leadership with an award in Senerchia’s name.
While battling ALS, Senerchia created the Anthony Senerchia Jr. ALS Charitable Foundation. The foundation funds ALS research and aids families whose loved ones have been stricken with the disease.
In 2014, Jeanette Senerchia’s cousin, professional golfer Chris Kennedy, challenged her to take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Kennedy, it’s believed, was among the first to pour a cold bucket of water over his head in the name of ALS.
“He sent it to me as a joke and then it turned into something extraordinary,” she said Sunday.
During an eight-week period in 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised $115 million, with $89 million going into research for a treatment and cure, according to the ALS Association.