Ice bucket chal­lenge in­spi­ra­tion Pete Frates dies at 34

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By MARK PRATT

BOS­TON (AP) >> Pete 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. 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.

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 around the world have ben­e­fited from the money raised.

The ice bucket 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.

BILL SIKES - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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