Inspiration behind 'ice bucket challenge' dead at 46

Anthony Senerchia, the man who inspired the 2014 "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge," died Saturday after battling the disease for 14 years, FOX 4 reported.

He was 46.

He was originally diagnosed with the disease in 2003 shortly after he married his wife Jeanette and was told he only had a few years to live, the report said.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, damages nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that are responsible for controlling movement.

The “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” began in 2014 when his wife's cousin, professional golfer Chris Kennedy, encouraged her to take part in the challenge and dumped a bucket of ice water over her head. The idea behind the challenge was that ice water would simulate the experience of muscle stiffness that people diagnosed with ALS feel.

The “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” became viral, reaching 440 million views online and raising $200 million, according to an estimate by ALS News Today. The money led to a new breakthrough in research, FOX 4 reported.

The challenge led to donations from high-profile celebrities like Bill Gates, Oprah and LeBron James.

“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,” Kennedy told TIME, “and it is something we never could have dreamed of.”