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Pete Frates, whose battle with ALS inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge, dies at 34


Pete Frates, the former college baseball star whose battle with ALS inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge, has passed away at the age of 34. 

Frates, of Massachusetts, was a symbol of hope for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and helped raised awareness and over $200million for research on the neurodegenerative disease that weakens muscles and impacts movement. There is no cure for ALS.

The Frates family confirmed his death on Monday in a heartfelt statement. 

‘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,’ the statement said.

In 2014 he launched the ALS Bucket Challenge, a viral sensation in which people dumped buckets of ice on themselves, donated to ALS research, and nominated friends to do the same.

The challenge, in which more than 17million people participated, raised over a whopping $200million worldwide, according to the ALS Association.     

Pete Frates, the former college baseball star whose battle with ALS inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge, has passed away at the age of 34, his family announced Monday

Pete Frates, the former college baseball star whose battle with ALS inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge, has passed away at the age of 34, his family announced Monday

In 2014 he launched the ALS Bucket Challenge, a viral sensation in which people dumped buckets of ice on themselves, donated to ALS research, and nominated friends to do the same. The challenge raised a whopping $200million worldwide. Frates pictured above participating in the challenge surrounded by his family

In 2014 he launched the ALS Bucket Challenge, a viral sensation in which people dumped buckets of ice on themselves, donated to ALS research, and nominated friends to do the same. The challenge raised a whopping $200million worldwide. Frates pictured above participating in the challenge surrounded by his family

His alma mater Boston College, where he played baseball and graduated in 2007 and where he went on to become Director of Baseball Operations, shared a tribute for him on Monday

His alma mater Boston College, where he played baseball and graduated in 2007 and where he went on to become Director of Baseball Operations, shared a tribute for him on Monday

Former Red Sox player David Ortis shared this tribute to Pete on Monday saying: 'I'm so very proud to have called you my friend. Heart hurts a lot today but ur name and legacy will live on forever. Rest easy my friend - we’ll continue to spread your word'

Former Red Sox player David Ortis shared this tribute to Pete on Monday saying: ‘I’m so very proud to have called you my friend. Heart hurts a lot today but ur name and legacy will live on forever. Rest easy my friend – we’ll continue to spread your word’

‘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,’ his family shared in their statement. 

‘He was a noble fighter who inspired us all to use our talents and strengths in the service of others.’

His family noted that Frates, from Beverly, never complained about his illness, but dedicated his life to raising awareness about it.  

‘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,’ the family statement said.  

In college Frates played baseball for Boston College and graduated in May 2007. 

After graduating he was named the director of baseball operations for Boston College Baseball in 2012. That same year at the age of 27 he was diagnosed with ALS. 

Frates pictured above back in 2006 when he played on Boston College's baseball team, six years before his ALS diagnosis

Frates pictured above back in 2006 when he played on Boston College’s baseball team, six years before his ALS diagnosis

Pete Frates pictured above with his wife Julie Frates and their daughter Lucy in 2017

Pete Frates pictured above with his wife Julie Frates and their daughter Lucy in 2017

Pete and his wife Julie married eight months after he was diagnosed and share a five-year-old daughter named Lucy.  

In 2014 he launched the ALS Bucket Challenge, which captured the attention of millions of people worldwide including big celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Will Smith and Lady Gaga. 

ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after a baseball player who was diagnosed with it in the 1930s. The progressive condition was first discovered by a French doctor back in 1869. 

Frates shared this snap holding his young daughter in September this year

Frates shared this snap holding his young daughter in September this year 

Family first! Pete smiles with his wife and daughter as they sport Boston College gear

Family first! Pete smiles with his wife and daughter as they sport Boston College gear

Julie and Pete Frates (pictured together in 2014 in New York City) tied the knot in 2013

Julie and Pete Frates (pictured together in 2014 in New York City) tied the knot in 2013

In October 2014 the New England Council named him the ‘New Englander of the Year for his pioneering work in raising ALS awareness. In December 2014 he was named one of Sports Illustrated’s Inspirations of the Year. 

What is ALS? 

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

The disease affects the nervous system, weakens muscles and impacts physical function. 

There is no cure for ALS, however medication and therapy can slow ALS and reduce discomfort. 

The 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge raised $200million worldwide towards ALS research in the search for a cure.

Doctor’s don’t usually know why ALS occurs but early warning signs include muscle twitching and slurred speech. 

In 2016 it was estimated between 14,000 and 15,000 Americans have ALS. 

It is a common neuromuscular disease worldwide.  

Source: The Mayo Clinic 

He also received the NCAA Inspiration of the Year Award in 2017. 

Life was difficult for the Frates family after Pete’s ALS diagnosis. He was hospitalized several times and in order to keep him living at home, the Frates faced daunting medical bills that reached $85,000 to $95,000 a month, as per CBS. 

To tackle the costs a friend created a pilot program called the Pete Frates Home Health Initiative in connection with the ALS Association. 

Tributes poured in from Boston figures, where Frates was hailed a hero in his home state, on Monday.

Boston College shared a tribute to the late athlete in light of his death on Monday. 

‘He accepted his illness and devoted the remaining years of his life to raising awareness of ALS and helping to raise money for a cure. He is a role model for all BC students and a beloved figure on our campus,’ the statement said.  

Former Red Sox player David Ortis shared this tribute to Pete on Monday saying: ‘I’m so very proud to have called you my friend. Heart hurts a lot today but ur name and legacy will live on forever. Rest easy my friend – we’ll continue to spread your word.’ 

Hockey team the Boston Bruins shared a tribute for Frates as well: 'His courage, determination, and fight made Boston - and the world - proud. The impact he made on all of us will never be forgotten'

Hockey team the Boston Bruins shared a tribute for Frates as well: ‘His courage, determination, and fight made Boston – and the world – proud. The impact he made on all of us will never be forgotten’

Major League Baseball shared this statement announcing Frates' death saying: 'All of us at Major League Baseball are proud that Pete and his family are members of the baseball family. we will remember Pete's example as we continue to support the pursuit of a cure for ALS'

Major League Baseball shared this statement announcing Frates’ death saying: ‘All of us at Major League Baseball are proud that Pete and his family are members of the baseball family. we will remember Pete’s example as we continue to support the pursuit of a cure for ALS’

Hockey team the Boston Bruins shared a tribute for Frates as well: ‘His courage, determination, and fight made Boston – and the world – proud. The impact he made on all of us will never be forgotten.’ 

He is survived by his wife Julie, daughter Lucy, and parents. 

The family offered those who would like to extend condolences and sympathy to consider making a donation to the Peter Frates Family Foundation, dedicated to aiding progressed ALS patients who want to stay at home. 

A funeral mass will be held at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Chestnut Hill on Friday December 13 at 11am. A celebration of life will take place at a later date.



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