Pete Frates, the former Boston College Eagles baseball player who inspired mass participation and fundraising with the viral “Ice Bucket Challenge," which pushed ALS research forward by raising more than $220 million, died. He was 34.
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In a statement released by Boston College News on Monday, Frates went peacefully while he was "surrounded by his loving family."
"Pete was an inspiration to so many people around the world who drew strength from his courage and resiliency," the statement continued.
As an athlete at Boston College, Frates was named team captain of the varsity baseball team in 2007 and was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS, five years later at age 27.
Frates married his wife, Julie, in June 2013. The couple's daughter, Lucy, was born a little more than a year later.
In the midst of prepping for parenthood, Frates gained household recognition for the fundraising milestones achieved through the Ice Bucket Challenge, which earned more than $220 million by August 2014 for the ALS Association.
The challenge involved filling a bucket to the brim with ice water and pouring it on individuals to simulate how it feels for those with ALS. Participants would film the task and end each video with a call challenging friends and family to do the same.
More than 17 million people answered that call by posting videos to Facebook that were watched 440 million times, according to the ALS Association. And the donations generated by the challenge tripled the ALS Associations research budget.
Vince McMahon, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey are just a few big names that joined on the fundraising effort.
Frates received several awards and honors for raising awareness to ALS, including a nomination for Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” award in 2014.
Boston College described Frates as 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. He was a noble fighter who inspired us all to use our talents and strengths in the service of others," Boston College’s statement said. "Remarkably, Pete never complained about his illness. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to give hope to other patients and their families."
"In his lifetime, he was determined to change the trajectory of a disease that had no treatment or cure. As a result, through his determination – along with his faithful supporters, Team Frate Train – he championed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. In August 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 Frates family is accepting donations to the Peter Frates Family Foundation in his honor. In the statement from Boston College, an extended message from the family said the following: "The Frates family wishes to express its sincere gratitude for the abundant love, kindness, and support we have been the recipients of during the past eight years."