Anthony Senerchia, the man who inspired the viral sensation “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” has died after a 14-year long battle with the disease. He passed away on Saturday at the age of 46.
Senerchia was diagnosed with ALS in 2003, and was told he only had a few years to live, his obituary states, shortly after marrying his wife Jeanette.
“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,'” his obituary reads.
Senerchia founded the Anthony Senerchia Jr. ALS Charitable Foundation, which helped fund research at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, as well as families impacted by the disease.
He is best known for being the inspiration for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which became a worldwide sensation in 2014, attracting millions around the globe to take part in the challenge and make donations to ALS research, including high profile celebrities like Bill Gates, LeBron James, and Oprah.
FOX 4’s Mark Alford, Loren Halifax, and Karli Ritter even took the plunge, as did Nick Vasos, Kim Byrnes, and Michelle Bogowith. The viral phenomenon went on to raise around $200 million, according to an estimate by ALS News Today, and led to a major breakthrough in ALS research.
It all began when Chris Kennedy — a professional golfer and the cousin of Anthony’s wife Jeanette — challenged Jeanette and a few others to take part in the challenge. Kennedy’s post reached another man living with ALS, Pete Frates, who posted it to his large social media following, and “that’s when the campaign became viral,” TIME reported in 2014.
Anthony and his family would go on to be invited to ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange, and in 2016, the original ice bucket used by Jeanette was inducted into the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.
“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,” his obituary reads.