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Pete Frates, Who Championed ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Dies At 34

Frates, diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 2012, launched a fundraising movement that attracted celebrity participants and donors worldwide.

Pete Frates, who spearheaded the viral ice bucket challenge to support those facing Lou Gehrig’s disease, died after his own yearslong battle with the illness on Monday. He was 34.

Frates’ family broke the news in a statement released by his alma mater, Boston College.

“Pete was an inspiration to so many people around the world who drew strength from his courage and resiliency,” his family said. “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.”

In 2012, Frates was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that impacts nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain, gradually restricting muscle movement. It is ultimately fatal, and has no cure.

“Remarkably, Pete never complained about his illness,” Frates’ family said. “Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to give hope to other patients and their families.”

Frates started the ice bucket challenge, as it was known, in the summer of 2014, daring participants to dump ice over their heads in an effort to raise awareness and money to fight ALS.

Footage of the challenges gained traction on social media, prompting numerous celebrities to join, including Lady Gaga, Lebron James, Amy Schumer and Oprah Winfrey. Donors from around the globe contributed to the fundraising movement, aiding research and access to care. 

Frates’ family called on the public to “celebrate Pete and the hope that he has given to so many by following his daily affirmation: Be passionate, be genuine, be hardworking and don’t ever be afraid to be great.”

The funeral will be held in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, next to the Boston College campus, where Frates was a baseball captain. No date for the service has been announced.

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