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Ice bucket challenge inspiration Pete Frates dead at 34

Ice bucket inspiration dies

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.

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.



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