The man who inspired the ALS ice bucket challenge has just sadly passed away

The man who inspired the ALS ice bucket challenge has just sadly passed away

A few years ago, the 'ice bucket challenge' swept across the internet, prompting thousands of people to post videos of themselves being doused in ice cold water. YouTubers did it, celebrities did it, and the chances are that a number of people reading this right now also participated in some way.

As well as being a fun viral trend, though, the ice bucket challenge also had an important message behind it.

At first, people who got involved in chucking ice over themselves were encouraged to do so for any charitable cause of their choice. But, in July 2014, a woman named Jeanette Senerchia caused the trend to go massively viral after she posted a video of herself completing the challenge to raise money specifically in aid of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) - a disease which her husband, Anthony, suffered from.

Sadly, just a little over three years later, Anthony Senerchia has passed away as a result of the illness.

Anthony was just 46 years old when he died on Saturday, and had been diagnosed with the condition back in 2003.

Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease and Motor Neurone Disease, ALS is an incurable illness which affects the neurons responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. As a result of the condition, sufferers will experience stiff and twitching muscles, long-term weakness, and a gradual inability to speak, swallow, or breathe.

Understandably, then, coping with the disease is a difficult task for many - but Anthony did all he could to give his family the best lives possible.

"It's a difficult disease and tough when you're losing," Jeanette said in an interview about her husband. "Your body is failing you. But he was a fighter … He was our light. He made our life better."

After receiving a diagnosis of ALS, Anthony started up the Anthony Senerchia Jr ALS Charitable Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding research for the disease and helping families whose loved ones are dealing with the condition.

"He worked tirelessly to raise awareness for ALS and was directly responsible for the world-renowned ice bucket challenge," his obituary reads.

Jeanette only did the challenge after she was nominated by her cosuin, and didn't expect to get a huge response from it. "He nominated me as a joke because we bust each other's chops," she said. "I was just going to donate money."

However, being a good sport, Jeanette went through with the challenge and posted the video with the hashtags "#takingiceforantsenerchiajr" (her husband) and "#StrikeOutALS". And, amazingly, it took the internet by storm.

"What started out as a small gesture to put a smile on Anthony's face and bring some awareness to this terrible disease has turned into a national phenomenon and it is something we never could have dreamed of," said Jeanette's cousin.

In a period of just two months after the video was posted, $115million was raised in aid of funding ALS treatment and research. None of that would have been possible without Jeanette or, more importantly, Anthony, who always did as much as he could to fight for others with ALS.