Pete Frates, Who Inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge, Has Died of ALS 

By Rachel Whetstone from In the Cloud Copy 

Pete Frates, known for being an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) advocate and an inspiration for the Ice Bucket Challenge, has passed away at 34 years of age. 

Frates was a Boston College baseball captain before the progressive disease struck. He was a beloved figure in Boston and used his fame to bring awareness of ALS to a wider audience. He is credited for inspiring the Ice Bucket Challenge, and he took efforts to help the fundraising campaign go viral. 

Pete Frates is survived by his wife Julie Frates and their five-year-old daughter Lucy, as well as extended family. 

A Bleak Diagnosis 

Frates was active in high school sports and went on to play as an outfielder for Boston College’s baseball team, the Eagles, from 2004 to 2007. Frates started 107 games for the team and after graduation, he remained heavily involved with the baseball team. 

In March 2012, Frates was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, at the age of 27. Soon after diagnosis, Frates started campaigning for awareness of the disease, with the help of his family. He hoped to raise enough money to find a cure.  

The Ice Bucket Challenge 

In the summer of 2014, a viral sensation known as the Ice Bucket Challenge began spreading on social media. People were encouraged to choose to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads, or donate to medical research, or both. People in Boston who were aware of Pete Frates’ diagnosis and work tagged their friends and asked them to donate to ALS research. 

Frates himself took part in the challenge, dumping ice water over his head with the help of the Boston Red Sox. 

About 17 million people from all over the world raised more than $200 million to help find a cure for ALS. This led to Sports Illustrated naming him one of their “Inspirations of the Year” in 2014. 

In July 2016, an international team of doctors was able to isolate a gene variation which is present in many ALS patients. Their research was funded by Ice Bucket Challenge donations. 

The Memory Lives On 

The Frates family faced extraordinary expenses to keep Frates living at home. Medical bills were sometimes as high as $85,000-$95,000 per month. A family friend started a pilot program called the Pete Frates Home Health Initiative, which worked with the ALS Association to help families who faced medical expenses associated with caring for their ALS loved ones at home. 

During an ALS awareness game in May 2016, Boston College retired Frates’ number 3. St. John’s Prep, where Frates graduated in 2003, also retired his number in football, hockey and baseball. Then in June 2019, Boston College announced a new baseball and softball training facility named the Pete Frates Center. 

A Celebration of Life 

There will be a funeral mass for Pete Frates at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Chestnut Hill on Friday, Dec. 13th, at 11 AM. At a later date, there will be a celebration of life on the North Shore. Family members encourage anyone who wishes to express condolences to make a donation to the Peter Frates Family Foundation. 

The Frates family plans to continue the Ice Bucket Challenge each August until a cure is found for ALS. 

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