The United States man who is credited with popularising the viral “Ice Bucket Challenge” that raised hundreds of millions of dollars for research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease, has died at the age of 34, his family said in a statement on Monday.
Pete Frates was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2012 at the age of 27. Two years after his diagnosis, he championed the #IceBucketChallenge, a viral challenge in which individuals nominated others to be doused in ice water and raise awareness for ALS.
According to local media, Frates, a former captain of the Boston College baseball team, turned to Boston, Massachusetts’s large sports community to help make the challenge go viral. The challenge is credited with raising more than $220m for ALS research.
Facebook said in 2014 that there were about 2.4 million videos related to the challenge, and at the time it had reached nearly every country in the world. It was shared by celebrities, major sports teams, presidents and many 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,” Frates’s family said in a statement.
“As a result, through his determination -along with his faithful supporters, Team Frate Train – he championed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge,” the statement added. “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.”
The ALS Associated tweeted Frates “changed the trajectory of ALS forever and showed the world how to live with a fatal disease. His efforts to lead the Ice Bucket Challenge had a significant impact on the search for treatments and a cure for ALS.”
Our hearts go out to Frates family and Boston community. @PeteFrates3 changed the trajectory of ALS forever and showed the world how to live with a fatal disease. His efforts to lead the Ice Bucket Challenge had a significant impact on the search for treatments and a cure for ALS
— The ALS Association (@alsassociation) December 9, 2019
Frates is survived by his wife, daughter and parents.
“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 said.
— Pete Frates (@PeteFrates3) September 6, 2019
Many paid their respects to Frates on social media, calling him a “legend”, “heroic” and “courageous”.
.@PeteFrates3 was one the most courageous and inspirational people I have ever met. He and his family changed the world for ALS patients & their families. Rest In Peace Pete. You earned it. #alschampion pic.twitter.com/i05Mi6JcD5
— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) December 9, 2019
Today I lost my friend. Someone who inspired me to do something bigger than myself. One of the toughest guys to ever walk the earth. You will be missed buddy. Rest easy @PeteFrates3. @TMchallengeALS will continue to fight in your honor!!! pic.twitter.com/7v9np3TVc2
— Sean Marshall (@007SeanMarshall) December 9, 2019
Today Massachusetts lost a wonderful human being who was a heroic, innovative and tireless ALS advocate. Thank you Pete Frates for inspiring us all. #IceBucketChallenge @ALSAMA @alsassociation @TMchallengeALS @BCBirdBall
— Speaker Bob DeLeo (@SpeakerDeLeo) December 9, 2019
Heartbreaking to hear about death of @PeteFrates3 of #Beverly. Despite living w/a terminal disease, Pete (& his family) dedicated his final yrs to raising awareness of ALS & $ for ALS research. Pete’s advocacy, courage, & unbreakable spirit will continue to live on. #StrikeOutALS pic.twitter.com/H9tLJrYnK8
— Sen. Joan B. Lovely (@SenJoanLovely) December 9, 2019