South Middle School student Ian Myer is hosting a Defeat ALS Auction Night on Sunday, Oct. 25, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck, 5 Old Mill Rd., in order to help those with ALS. Myer has organized this event as his bar mitzvah project.
Myer explained, “For this mitzvah project, I had to put a certain amount of time into working to make the world a better place,” and that is exactly what he is doing. Myer has been improving the world by working on his mitzvah project for more than a year in hopes of helping those with ALS.
ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a tragic illness that involves the death of neurons. ALS is categorized by conditions such as stiff muscles, muscle twitching and progressively deteriorating weakness as a result of muscle wasting. This results in trouble swallowing, speaking and ultimately, breathing. The cause of the disease is unknown and there is no cure.
The eighth grader decided to help those with ALS because he had an experience which had a great impact on him at a young age. When Myer was in fifth grade at E.M. Baker, his teacher Mr. Lynch talked about how he helped this ALS charity because he was inspired by someone with ALS. This someone was Christopher Pendergast. Mr. Lynch had Christopher Pendergast visit the class and explained how he started and now runs a charity called Ride for Life. Pendergast talked to Myer and his fellow classmates about his life, charity and challenges with ALS.
According to Myer, Pendergast came back to visit the school again later in the year, but this time, “he came during his annual ride. For Mr. Pendergast’s charity, he rides in his wheelchair with other ALS patients from Montauk to Manhattan. When Mr. Pendergast and the other ALS patients rode into our school, all of the students were chanting, cheering and holding signs to encourage the participants.” This, of course, had a huge impact on Myer. He said, “When I had to decide what I was going to do [for the mitzvah project], the choice was easy. I knew that I wanted to help Mr. Pendergast.”
Myer contacted Pendergast, who asked him what his interests were and what he liked. Myer, who enjoys skiing with his family, is currently on the eighth-grade school soccer team and was on the seventh-grade baseball team last year, responded that he liked sports and wanted to help others through his bar mitzvah project.
The Great Neck South Middle Schooler said, “Pendergast responded back with ideas that he thought I would like based on my interests. He had ideas, such as a charity softball or whiffle ball game and a raffle event. The idea that stuck out to me was to create a sports memorabilia auction. I started working, finding addresses for athletes, sending letters to them, collecting raffle items from local stores, advertising the event. To be able to make this even possible, it took a lot of hard work and dedication. Doing this project makes me feel really proud of myself because I know I’m doing something good for ALS research and patients who are suffering from ALS.”
For the ALS Auction Night, Myer will be auctioning 30 items of sports memorabilia that he has collected from famous athletes. He also has more than 40 raffle items for a Chinese Auction—a combination of an auction and a raffle—and will be selling raffles for prizes that were donated by local businesses.
The ambitious Myer, who enjoys his time at school and made honor roll last year, has put so much effort, energy and time towards his mitzvah project, but his true goal seems to be the desire to help others and to make the world a better place.
In his free time, Myer likes to spend time with his friends, watch Survivor with his family and baseball games and movies with his father.
Come help Myer with his fundraiser for ALS on Sunday, Oct. 25, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck. According to Myer, there will be passed hors d’oeuvres at the event and a cash bar. His inspiration, Christopher Pendergast, will be in attendance. Myer said, “I am so excited for my event because I want to put my hard work into raising money for Ride for Life.”
To learn more about ALS and Ride for Life, visit www.alsrideforlife.org.