Pete Frates, who inspired the ALS ice bucket challenge, has died

Click to play video: 'Funeral held for man who inspired ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ in Massachusetts'
Funeral held for man who inspired ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ in Massachusetts
WATCH: Funeral held for man who inspired 'Ice Bucket Challenge' in Massachusetts (Dec. 13) – Dec 13, 2019

Pete Frates, the man who became the face of the viral ice bucket challenge in 2014, has died at the age of 34 after a seven-year battle with ALS.

Frates’ family announced his passing on Monday in a statement released through Boston College.

“Today Heaven received our angel,” Frates’ family wrote in their statement on Monday. “Peter passed away surrounded by his loving family, peacefully at age 34, after a heroic battle with ALS.”

Frates was captain of Boston College’s baseball team when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2012. The degenerative disease eats away at nerve cells and cannot be cured.

Story continues below advertisement

Two years after his diagnosis, Frates was hailed as one of the champions of a viral fundraising campaign called the ALS ice bucket challenge. The far-reaching campaign raised hundreds of millions of dollars in search of a cure for ALS.

Actors, politicians, athletes and everyday people took part in the simple trend. A person had to either donate money to ALS research or dump an ice-cold bucket of water over their head and call out several others to do the same. People would often do the water stunt and make the donation.

“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.

Click to play video: 'Gene identified in breakthrough research funded by ALS Ice Bucket Challenge'
Gene identified in breakthrough research funded by ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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

Story continues below advertisement

Frates’ family celebrated his contributions to ALS research, applauding him for helping to raise money for new treatments and genetic studies of the disease.

“He was a beacon of hope for all,” they said.

In this file photo, former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates passes Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz and his son D’Angelo, prior to the re-launch of the Ice Bucket Challenge at Fenway Park on Friday, July 31, 2015 in Boston. Arthur Pollock/The Boston Herald via AP

Frates’ death comes just a few months after Boston College announced plans to name its new indoor baseball training facility in his honour.

Frates is credited with helping to popularize the ice bucket challenge after it was founded by Anthony Senerchia Jr., who also had ALS. Senerchia died in Pelham, N.Y., in 2017.

Frates, Senerchia and others helped fuel renewed interest in the disease, which has long been associated with former New York Yankees star Lou Gehrig.

Story continues below advertisement

Gehrig famously retired from Major League Baseball in 1939 after he was diagnosed with the disease. He died two years later at the age of 38.

The MLB had Frates’ baseball cap on display Monday morning, shortly before his death. The league was preparing to launch a charity auction to benefit ALS research.

“Pete continues to fight strong and inspire everyone today,” ESPN announcer Jon Sciambi said at the event. “I wish Pete could be here, and, Pete, if you’re watching, we love you. Keep fighting, pal.”

—With files from the Associated Press

Sponsored content