Pete Frates, Inspiration Behind ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Dies at 34

Viral challenge raised over $100 million in the summer of 2014 for ALS research

Pete Frates ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Photo credit: Getty Images

Pete Frates, the former college athlete who inspired the viral 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, died Monday at age 34.

“Today Heaven received our angel: Peter 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,” his family posted on his official website.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is an incurable disease where nerve cells break down and weaken muscles.

Frates, a native of Beverly in the Boston suburbs, was a three-sport athlete at St. John’s Prep in nearby Danvers and played baseball at Boston College. He went on to play professionally in Germany after graduation and as in amateur leagues after returning to the U.S. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 at age 27, a year after sustaining a wrist injury during a minor league baseball game that didn’t heal properly.

“In his lifetime, he was determined to change the trajectory of a disease that had no treatment or cure,” the statement continued. “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 Ice Bucket Challenge went viral during July and August of 2014 and involved an individual getting dunked by freezing cold water and nominating three others to undergo the challenge. At the end of August 2014, The ALS Association announced they had raised $100+ million in donations during that time period. The challenge also raised monies for additional ALS awareness organizations.

Celebrities ranging from Oprah to Chris Pratt participated in the challenge, which raised $200 million world wide.

Learn more about Frates’ story below: