DANVILLE -- Pete Zucker, an avid cyclist whose battle with Lou Gehrig's disease sparked a foundation created in his honor to raise awareness of the disease, died at home Monday, said his wife Monica Mazzocco-Zucker.
Zucker, 47, was an accomplished cyclist, runner and triathlete before contracting ALS, which progressively destroys muscle control. He was diagnosed in 2010.
According to his wife, Zucker had respiratory problems in recent weeks and died in his sleep with family and close friends nearby.
"He was quite an example to everyone," she said. "He touched so many people's lives in such an amazing way."
To raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the neurodegenerative disease that affects 30,000 people nationwide, his wife founded the Pete Zucker Foundation in 2012. Sporting the motto "For Pete's Sake!," it has held many cycling events, bake sales and other fundraisers for ALS research.
The foundation raised $200,000 in the past year, said his wife, who remembered Pete for his dry humor and positive outlook.
"He was very funny," she said. "That's what he hung on to this whole time. He was laughing and smiling through his whole ordeal."
Born in Massachusetts, Zucker grew up in the San Diego area and graduated from Cal Poly. After college, where he and Monica met as triathletes, he started Bremco of Northern California, a commercial and general contractorship.
Before contracting ALS, Zucker often competed in road races, time trials and criteriums. He often rode up Mount Diablo with a local race team, and qualified to compete in the half-triathlon national championship.
Two of Zucker's training friends founded the Fast and Furious bike race and festival in his honor to raise money for ALS research. The event, featuring pro and amateur racers, was held the past two summers in Pleasanton. Pete attended the event last year. Organizers said the ride will not be held this year.
Mazzocco-Zucker said the foundation will continue fundraising events and rides, and she is working on forming a cycling club in her husband's honor. A Danville Bike/Kovarus Club ride will be held April 14 in Danville, with a portion of proceeds going to the foundation.
"We're just trying to get something positive out of all of this," she said.
Zucker is survived by his wife and sons Ryan, 16, and Zachary, 13. A celebration of Zucker's life will be held at 1 p.m. April 5 at Cornerstone Fellowship Church, 348 N. Canyons Parkway, Livermore.
Reporter Denis Cuff contributed to this story. Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184.
To make a donation to fight ALS, visit www.petezuckerfoundation.org, or send a check to 15 Headland Court, Danville, CA 94506.