Pete Frates created the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2012, raising over $220 million in donations for research.
Over five years ago now, a viral challenge took the internet by storm: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge promoted awareness of ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which affects neurons controlling voluntary muscles and called for donations to research for the same. If you remember seeing your Facebook or Twitter timeline flooded with posts of friends and family members who had tried the challenge, or if you did the challenge yourself, there's someone you can thank for that: Pete Frates. Sadly, Frates passed away at the young age of 34 after losing a tough battle to ALS. In a heartfelt statement published on Monday, his family confirmed his sad demise.
The Frates family wrote, "Today Heaven received our angel: Pete 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." Frates was a ray of hope for others with ALS and inspired many to power through their illness, much like he did. Though ALS had been tough on him, he remained strong and positive. The family's statement continued, "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."
Frates was a college baseball star. He played for Boston College and, in 2012, went on to become Director of Baseball Operations for the university. This is the same year he was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease. At the time, and to date, no cure exists for ALS. However, research is ongoing — in no small part thanks to the viral challenge. Through his Ice Bucket Challenge, he was able to rally thousands of people across the world and raise $200 million from worldwide donations, The Daily Mail reports. Though the trend died down in 2015, many have continued to partake in it in the years following.
A funeral mass for Frates will be held on December 13 at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, located at 28 Commonwealth Avenue in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts right by the campus of his alma mater. At a later date, a celebration of his life will be held on the North Shore of Boston. The Frates family concluded, "In his lifetime, [Pete] 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 wishes to express its sincere gratitude for the abundant love, kindness, and support we have been the recipients of during the past eight years."