Pete Frates, a major influencer of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, has died at the age of 34 after being diagnosed with ALS at age 27, according to a statement from his family on Monday. His advocacy efforts helped spearhead awareness and new research initiatives for others with ALS.
Frates, a former Boston College baseball star, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2012. ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that impacts the brain and spinal cord. According to the ALS Association, the condition can cause a wide range of progressive symptoms such as muscle weakness, slurred speech, arm and leg fatigue, inability to write, and breathing trouble. There is currently no cure and it affects approximately 16,000 people in the U.S.
In 2014, pro golfer Chris Kennedy challenged his wife’s cousin to take the ice bucket challenge — post a video of yourself dumping ice cold water on your head on social media — to raise awareness for ALS, according to Time. The challenge was promoted by Pat Quinn, who has ALS, but it really took off when Frates and his family got involved.
The challenge raised $115 million for ALS in just eight weeks. Thanks to the viral campaign, the ALS Association was able to use these funds to initiate more than 200 new research projects and support 15,000 patients with ALS each year. In May, the Frates family also founded the Peter Frates Family Foundation to continue his work to find better treatments for ALS.
Fans, friends and the health community reacted to his death on social media and shared condolences.
Pete Frates, the greatest athlete in Boston history, has passed away, per family. What a great fighter. He will never be forgotten.
— Steve Buckley (@BuckinBoston) December 9, 2019
The world lost a true hero today with the passing of Pete Frates.
I admired everything about him. His story will live on for generations. The battle he fought. His passion, joy for life and the amazing work he’s done to fight #ALS RIP Pete
Here is a Frates family statement: pic.twitter.com/YRleZFYuMN
— Dan Roche (@RochieWBZ) December 9, 2019
I lost someone very close to me a year ago to ALS. It’s the worst disease imaginable.
Losing Pete Frates today is a blow but his mission will live on forever. Pete was such an inspiration to anyone directly impacted by ALS. Please donate. https://t.co/pdVTbxCTHu
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) December 9, 2019
RIP Pete Frates. You will never be forgotten for all that you have done for bringing awareness to ALS. Pete faced his fears of being diagnosed with ALS and used it as fuel to continue to live an amazing loving life. We will all miss you!!
— Lou Merloni (@LouMerloni) December 9, 2019
We are very sad to hear about the passing of our friend @PeteFrates3 today. A big loss for the Boston community and beyond, his mission will live on forever. ♥️
"Be passionate, be genuine, be hardworking, and don't ever be afraid to be great." -Pete Frates pic.twitter.com/ZjNNOPBtfk
— TB12 (@TB12sports) December 9, 2019
Pete Frates has passed away at the age of 34.
RIP to a man who impacted our lives and the world in an absolutely heroic manner. pic.twitter.com/Pe3q2yMgqK
— Barstool BC (@BarstoolBC) December 9, 2019
Pete Frates was the definition of an inspiration.
His courage, determination, and fight made Boston – and the world – proud. The impact he made on all of us will never be forgotten.
The Bruins offer their sincere condolences to the Frates family during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/2oFPGVJ4AZ
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 9, 2019
When the cure for ALS is found Pete Frates will be one of the first names mentioned when people ask how it happened. What a fight he put forth. Rest In Peace.
— Ryan Whitney (@ryanwhitney6) December 9, 2019
A hero that transcends the diamond.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) December 9, 2019
The word hero is often overused in society. Pete Frates is a true hero. RIP to the Frates family.
— Danny Ventura (@BostonHeraldHS) December 9, 2019
“Pete never complained about his illness. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to give hope to other patients and their families,” his family wrote, adding:
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.
The Frates family announces with great sadness the loss of Pete Frates ’07, who has passed away after his courageous and public battle with ALS. Read the Frates Family statement: https://t.co/5nVJLeGjLC pic.twitter.com/PL4hT9yquI
— Boston College (@BostonCollege) December 9, 2019