The man who helped launch the viral Ice Bucket Challenge has died.
Pete Frates recently succumbed to the disease which he helped shed light on by convincing celebrities and regular people to dump cold water and ice over their heads in videos on social media. He was 34 years old, and his legacy of getting folks talking about ALS will live on for a very long time.
“A natural-born leader and the ultimate teammate, Pete was a role model for all, especially young athletes, who looked up to him for his bravery and unwavering positive spirit in the face of adversity,” reads a statement from his family released by Boston College. “He was a noble fighter who inspired us all to use our talents and strengths in the service of others.”
The idea for the Ice Bucket Challenge didn’t originate with Frates — a friend of his whom he met online, Patrick Quinn, created the idea. Quinn also has ALS. But Frates really moved it forward and is considered by many to be a co-founder of the effort. He and some friends popularized the Ice Bucket Challenge through social media.
Here he is in 2014, doing the challenge himself and campaigning for action on ALS.
The donations raised after Frates helped spur the idea to popularity allowed the ALS Association to do research and discover a new ALS gene.
ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and it affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
Frates was diagnosed with the disease at age 27 after seeking medical treatment for a baseball injury in which he was struck on the wrist by a fastball. Previously a star athlete, he set records playing baseball at Boston College and played professionally in Germany for a brief period of time.
The college tweeted this about Frates:
— Boston College (@BostonCollege) December 9, 2019
The Boston Bruins also tweeted condolences:
"Pete was an unbelievable person…he's a true hero."
📰 B's offer condolences following Frates' passing: https://t.co/Ovlw2jhHPA
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 10, 2019
Frates’ impact on the awareness of ALS has been huge. The Boston Globe reports that the Ice Bucket Challenge raised up to $220 million for research.
A park in Beverly, Massachusetts, where Frates is from, was renamed for him last year. The Beverly community is conducting a vigil in his memory to “shine light and love” on his family.
Nancy Frates, Pete’s mom, has been sharing messages sent to the family since his passing. She tweeted one calling both her son and Tom Brady GOATs, or “Greatest of All Time”:
GOAT TO GOAT https://t.co/EUykcf4yy9
— Nancy Frates (@momfrates) December 10, 2019
We agree, Nancy. Pete Frates and his efforts were certainly great. Here’s a video from 2015 from Quinn and Frates, encouraging participants to join the Ice Bucket Challenge again.
This inspiring man is not done raising funds for ALS, though. The family requests that anyone who wishes to express their sympathy should donate to the Peter Frates Family Foundation in his memory.
He also leaves behind a wife, Julia, and daughter Lucy. Our condolences go out to his friends and family on his untimely passing.