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Man who inspired Ice Bucket Challenge dies aged 46

'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,' says obituary

Maya Oppenheim
Thursday 30 November 2017 14:10 GMT
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Mr Senerchia Jnr set up the Anthony Senerchia Jr ALS Charitable Foundation which dished out substantial finanical donations to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center for ALS research
Mr Senerchia Jnr set up the Anthony Senerchia Jr ALS Charitable Foundation which dished out substantial finanical donations to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center for ALS research (Reuters)

The man who served as the inspiration for the hugely successful Ice Bucket Challenge has died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at the age of 46.

Anthony Senerchia Jnr struggled with the illness, which is commonly called motor neurone disease in the UK, for 14 years but lived more than ten years beyond the doctor’s prognosis.

Mr Senerchia Jnr, who was from Pelham in New York, worked hard to raise awareness for motor neurone disease and was behind the viral ice bucket challenge which raised over two hundred million dollars for research into the illness.

"He worked tirelessly to raise awareness for ALS and was directly responsible for the world-renowned Ice bucket challenge," reads his obituary on Pelham’s Funeral Home.

"Throughout his fight, Anthony maintained a positive attitude and would say 'It's not what we take from life, but what we give back to others is what ultimately defines us’".

"Although Anthony received many awards and accolades in his lifetime none would compare with his daughter Taya who was his ultimate pride and joy," it continues. "Anthony was a devoted father who loved to take Taya for breakfast, help with her maths homework and go for walks with her.”

"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."

Mr Senerchia Jnr, who was diagnosed in 2003, set up the Anthony Senerchia Jr ALS Charitable Foundation which dished out financial donations to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center for ALS research and to families with ALS who were grappling with financial hardship.

“We are very sorry to share that Anthony Senerchia, co-founder of #ALSIceBucketChallenge passed away on Saturday,” said The ALS Association on Twitter.

“Please see this video to learn more about him and his wife, Jeanette, and how they helped inspire a global phenomenon."

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started in 2014 and helped to raise awareness of the disease and encourage donations to research surrounding it.

The campaign, which was centred on the simple premise of putting a bucket of ice-cold water over your head and then challenging a friend to do the same or donate money to The ALS Association, was an overnight success.

Dozens of high-profile individuals, such as George W Bush, Bill Gates, Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Anna Wintour, Rihanna, Matt Damon, Rita Ora, and Robert Downey Jr, took part in the challenge.

Cynics might have initially rebuffed the campaign as a stunt but it helped raise tonnes of money, with the association raising more than $115 million in just eight weeks. On top of this, more than 17 million people chucked ice cold water over their heads.

ALS causes the death of neurons which control voluntary muscles. It can cause muscle wasting, weakness, twitching, muscle spasms, speech and swallowing problems. The term motor neurone disease is utilised for a group of conditions of which ALS is the most common.

Mr Senerchia Jnr is survived by his wife, Jeanette Hane Senerchia, his daughter, Taya, his parents, Anthony and Rose Senerchia, and his brothers.

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