During the summer of 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge became a viral sensation as a means of raising money and awareness to help find a cure for ALS. It’s founder, Pete Frates, became a Boston sports icon in the process.
The former college baseball player, father, and husband, unfortunately, lost his battle with ALS on Monday and passed away at the age of 34.
Frates, who grew up in the Boston suburb of Beverly, played his high school baseball at St. John’s Prep in nearby Danvers. A 2003 graduate, he accepted an offer to play at Boston College where he set the modern team record with eight RBI in a game on April 14, 2007.
Frates was diagnosed with the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in 2012 and immediately began his battle with the disease as well as his mission to help find a cure.
The Ice Bucket Challenge was his answer, raising between $160 million and $220 million for ALS research. In an article for Bleacher Report, Frates put out a call to action for all to help support the fight against ALS and became the public face for the disease. He was named Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year in 2014 for his efforts.
Statement from the Frates’ Family
In a statement to Boston College, the Frates family confirmed his passing:
Today Heaven received our angel: Peter Frates. A husband to Julie, a father to Lucy, a son to John and Nancy, a brother to Andrew and Jennifer, Pete passed away surrounded by his loving family, peacefully at age 34, after a heroic battle with ALS.
Pete was an inspiration to so many people around the world who drew strength from his courage and resiliency. 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. He was a noble fighter who inspired us all to use our talents and strengths in the service of others.
Remarkably, Pete never complained about his illness. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to give hope to other patients and their families. In his lifetime, he was determined to change the trajectory of a disease that had no treatment or cure. As a result, through his determination—along with his faithful supporters, Team Frate Train—he championed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. In August of 2014, the historic movement pioneered social media fundraising and garnered donations globally that resulted in better access to ALS care, genetic discoveries, treatments and, someday, a cure. He was a beacon of hope for all.
On behalf of Julie, Lucy, John, Nancy, Jennifer and Andrew, along with his extended family and multitude of friends, we ask that you celebrate Pete and the hope that he has given to so many by following his daily affirmation: Be passionate, be genuine, be hardworking and don’t ever be afraid to be great.
The family asked for privacy during their time of mourning and for everyone who wishes to extend sympathy to please make a donation to the Pete Frates Foundation.
Watch the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge swept the nation and many celebrities also got in on the action, accepting challenges. Here’s a look at one compilation which features a number of various people taking part in it.
Frates also published a book on the Ice Bucket Challenge, as NECN’s Frank Holland detailed. As Frates’ co-author David Wedge explained, the challenge helped decide the best avenue to fight ALS.
“That’s really the focal point, “ said Wedge, “Everything builds up to that moment where there is an ‘ah-ha’ moment where Pete says ‘this is it, this is how we are going to fight ALS.’”