Pete Frates, the man who inspired the “Ice Bucket Challenge” phenomenon that raised more than $200 million worldwide to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), died Monday of the disease at age 34.
Frates’ family confirmed in a statement that he died “peacefully” after a “heroic battle” with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The challenge, which thousands of people participated in, involved pouring a bucket of ice water over one’s head, posting it on social media, and rallying others to do the same or make a donation to an ALS charity. The raised funds directly advanced global research initiatives focused on finding the causes of and potential treatments for ALS.
The disease, for which there is no known cure, is progressively neurodegenerative and ultimately leads to paralysis. Frates, who at the end of his life was in a wheelchair and unable to speak, was a three-sport athlete in St. John’s Catholic Prep school in Danvers, Massachusetts. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 just a few months after he injured his wrist while playing for the Lexington Blue Sox baseball team.