Ice bucket challenge inspiration Pete Frates dies at 34

  • FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2017, file photo, Pete Frates, right, who inspired the ice bucket challenge, looks at his wife Julie during a ceremony at City Hall in Boston by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh declaring the day the Pete Frates Day. Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34.

    FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2017, file photo, Pete Frates, right, who inspired the ice bucket challenge, looks at his wife Julie during a ceremony at City Hall in Boston by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh declaring the day the Pete Frates Day. Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2017 photo, Pete Frates, who is stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, listens to a guest at Fenway Park in Boston. Frates, a former college baseball player whose determined battle with Lou Gehrig's disease helped inspire the ALS ice bucket challenge that has raised more than $200 million worldwide, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019.  He was 34.

    FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2017 photo, Pete Frates, who is stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, listens to a guest at Fenway Park in Boston. Frates, a former college baseball player whose determined battle with Lou Gehrig's disease helped inspire the ALS ice bucket challenge that has raised more than $200 million worldwide, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 10, 2015 file photo, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, right center, and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, third from left, participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge with the man who inspired the event, Pete Frates, seated in center, to raise money for ALS research, at the Statehouse in Boston. Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34.

    FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 10, 2015 file photo, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, right center, and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, third from left, participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge with the man who inspired the event, Pete Frates, seated in center, to raise money for ALS research, at the Statehouse in Boston. Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2014, file photo, Tim Leiweke, President and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, participates in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge as Nazem Kadri, rear left, of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Amir Johnson, center, of the Toronto Raptors and Jermain Defoe, right, of Toronto FC dump ice water on him in Toronto. Pete Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and inspired the Ice Bucket Challege, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2014, file photo, Tim Leiweke, President and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, participates in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge as Nazem Kadri, rear left, of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Amir Johnson, center, of the Toronto Raptors and Jermain Defoe, right, of Toronto FC dump ice water on him in Toronto. Pete Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and inspired the Ice Bucket Challege, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP, File) Associated Press

  • FILE - In this April 13, 2015, file photo, Pete Frates, former Boston College baseball player whose Ice Bucket Challenge raised millions for ALS research, is applauded by Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, far left, and his wife Julie Frates, center, along with other family members prior to the home opener baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Nationals at Fenway Park in Boston. Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34.

    FILE - In this April 13, 2015, file photo, Pete Frates, former Boston College baseball player whose Ice Bucket Challenge raised millions for ALS research, is applauded by Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, far left, and his wife Julie Frates, center, along with other family members prior to the home opener baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Nationals at Fenway Park in Boston. Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2014 file photo, Major League Baseball Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred participates in the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge outside the organization's headquarters in New York. Pete Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and inspired the Ice Bucket Challege, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34.

    FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2014 file photo, Major League Baseball Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred participates in the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge outside the organization's headquarters in New York. Pete Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and inspired the Ice Bucket Challege, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2014 file photo, Heidi Klum, left, and Tim Gunn, right, take part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge during the Project Runway finale at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. Pete Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and inspired the Ice Bucket Challege, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2014 file photo, Heidi Klum, left, and Tim Gunn, right, take part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge during the Project Runway finale at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. Pete Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and inspired the Ice Bucket Challege, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File) Associated Press

  • FILE - In this July 31, 2015, file photo, Boston Red Sox player Mike Napoli takes part in the re-launch of the Ice Bucket Challenge as former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, right, looks on at Fenway Park in Boston. Frates, whose determined battle with Lou Gehrig's disease helped inspire the ALS ice bucket challenge that has raised more than $200 million worldwide, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34.  (Arthur Pollock/The Boston Herald via AP, File)

    FILE - In this July 31, 2015, file photo, Boston Red Sox player Mike Napoli takes part in the re-launch of the Ice Bucket Challenge as former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, right, looks on at Fenway Park in Boston. Frates, whose determined battle with Lou Gehrig's disease helped inspire the ALS ice bucket challenge that has raised more than $200 million worldwide, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34. (Arthur Pollock/The Boston Herald via AP, File) Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2014 file photo, Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So, right, and Hong Kong businessman Allan Zeman take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge fund raising event in Hong Kong. Pete Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and inspired the Ice Bucket Challege, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34.

    FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2014 file photo, Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So, right, and Hong Kong businessman Allan Zeman take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge fund raising event in Hong Kong. Pete Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and inspired the Ice Bucket Challege, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this April 13, 2015, file photo, Pete Frates, center, former Boston College baseball player whose Ice Bucket Challenge raised millions for ALS research, is escorted by Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, second from right, and Pedro Martinez, special assistant to the general manager, right, during ceremonies prior to the home opener baseball game between the Red Sox and the Washington Nationals, in Boston. Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34.

    FILE - In this April 13, 2015, file photo, Pete Frates, center, former Boston College baseball player whose Ice Bucket Challenge raised millions for ALS research, is escorted by Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, second from right, and Pedro Martinez, special assistant to the general manager, right, during ceremonies prior to the home opener baseball game between the Red Sox and the Washington Nationals, in Boston. Frates, who was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, died Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. He was 34. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 12/9/2019 5:00 PM

BOSTON -- Pete Frates, a former college baseball player whose battle with Lou Gehrig's disease helped inspire the ALS ice bucket challenge that has raised more than $200 million worldwide, died Monday. He was 34.

Frates died peacefully, surrounded by his family, they said in a statement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

'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," the family said. 'He was a noble fighter who inspired us all to use our talents and strengths in the service of others."

The ice bucket challenge began in 2014 when pro golfer Chris Kennedy challenged his wife's cousin Jeanette Senerchia, whose husband has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease after the New York Yankees great who suffered from it.

ALS patient Pat Quinn, of Yonkers, New York, picked up on it and started its spread, but when Frates and his family got involved, the phenomenon exploded on social media.

The process was simple: Take a bucket of ice water, dump it over your head, post a video on social media and challenge others to do the same or make a donation to charity. Most people did both.

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Thousands of people participated, including celebrities, sports stars and politicians - even Donald Trump before his election and cartoon character Homer Simpson. Online videos were viewed millions of times.

'The ALS ice bucket challenge represents all that's great about this country - it's about fun, friends, family, and it makes a difference to all of us living with ALS,' Frates said at the time.

The challenge has raised about $220 million worldwide, including $115 million alone for the Washington-based ALS Association.

'Pete Frates changed the trajectory of ALS forever and showed the world how to live with a fatal disease," the group said in an email. 'He inspired everyone he met and his efforts to lead the ice bucket challenge had a significant impact on the search for treatments and a cure for ALS."

Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or motor neuron disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that leads to paralysis due to the death of motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain. There is no known cure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Frates, a native of Beverly in the Boston suburbs, was a three-sport athlete at St. John's Prep in nearby Danvers. He went on to play baseball at Boston College. He played professionally in Germany after graduation and in amateur leagues upon his return to the U.S.

He was playing for the Lexington Blue Sox in 2011 when he got hit on the wrist by a pitch and noticed that it wasn't healing properly. After months of testing, Frates was diagnosed with ALS in 2012.

'The man upstairs has a plan for me,' he told The Salem News in 2012. 'I'm not having too many issues with this, mentally. This is the hand I've been dealt and I've made my peace with it. There are people out there that don't have my support system or my advantages, and I want to help them.'

As the disease progressed, he became paralyzed and had to use a wheelchair, lost the ability to talk and had to be fed through a tube.

With the help of funds raised by the ice bucket challenge, significant investments in research on the causes of and potential treatments for ALS have been made. Dozens of research institutions and hundreds of scientists around the world have benefited from the money raised.

The ALS Association said it used to spend about $4 million to $6 million per year on research, but that has grown to $17 million to $19 million per year since the ice bucket challenge exploded.

The challenge has also been used to raise awareness for other charitable causes.

Frates' father, John, said targeted research led to advances in treating other diseases.

'When I was a young kid, we were worried about polio. When Magic Johnson got AIDS, it was a death sentence. If we get money flowing into ALS, things will get better," he told The Salem News. 'Hopefully, Pete can be that spokesman that sparks that.'

The death was announced just hours after Major League Baseball displayed Frates' BC baseball cap at a news conference to announce a charity auction to benefit ALS research. ESPN announcer Jon Sciambi said Nancy and John Frates wanted to be at the winter meetings in San Diego for the announcement but stayed home to take care of Pete. 'Pete continues to fight strong and inspire everyone today,' Sciambi said. 'I wish Pete could be here, and, Pete, if you're watching, we love you. Keep fighting, pal.'

Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred Jr. called Frates an inspiration.

'The courage and determination of Pete Frates inspired countless people throughout the game he loved and around the world," Manfred said. 'He galvanized ALS awareness for a new generation and honored the memory of a fellow ballplayer, Lou Gehrig."

Frates maintained close ties to his alma mater. The school will name a new 31,000-square-foot baseball and softball training center scheduled to open next summer the Pete Frates Center.

Frates is survived by his wife, Julie; daughter Lucy; parents John and Nancy; and siblings Andrew and Jennifer.

A funeral Mass will be held Friday at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, next to the Boston College campus. The family also plans a celebration of his life closer to their Beverly home at a later date.

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