Pete Frates, Beloved ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ Innovator, Dies at 34
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Pete Frates, the former Boston College baseball player who popularized the Ice Bucket Challenge and helped raise millions of dollars for ALS research, died on Monday at 34 years old.

Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, fought the disease for eight years and was an instrumental driving force behind the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’s success. His family confirmed his death in a statement via Boston College.

“Today Heaven received our angel: Peter Frates,” the family said. “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.”

Ice Bucket Challenge

The Ice Bucket Challenge took the Internet and social media by storm in 2014. Better known as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, it raised more than $200 million for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) research. Athletes like LeBron James, Caroline Wozniacki and Michelle Wie all took part, as did the rest of the world.

Frates’ journey to find a cure for the disease began in August 2011, when he was hit with a fastball on his left wrist while playing for the Boston College baseball team. He suffered a lingering injury that led to his diagnosis.

A few years later, Frates got the Ice Bucket Challenge idea from a friend also suffering from ALS, Patrick Quinn. As the Boston Globe notes, the two met online and became friends when Quinn traveled from New York to Boston for treatment. Then they hatched an idea — dumping ice water on your head and nominating friends to do the same — that took the world by storm.


“Remarkably, Pete never complained about his illness,” His family said. “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.”

Who Is Pete Frates?

Pete Frates shared a special bond with the city of Boston. He grew up in Beverly, Massachusetts, and graduated from Danvers’ St. John’s Prep, where he was a three-sport athlete. He went on to play baseball and study communications and history at Boston College.

Frates was a Boston sports fan, including the New England Patriots. Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman honored Frates in his own Ice Bucket Challenge.

In 2017, the Boston Red Sox, MLB, Boston mayor Marty Walsh and the Frates family all celebrated Frates’ inspiration on what would become Pete Frates Day on Sept. 5. Even the bucket Frates used in his original Ice Bucket Challenge at Fenway Park in 2014 was donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The bucket, along with memorabilia from his collegiate playing days is enshrined there.


One man can change the world, and Frates did just that. Because of his efforts, everyone across the globe knew about the challenge and the cause behind it. Sports Illustrated even granted its 2014 Inspiration of the Year award to Frates.

Even if the ALS Association doesn’t find a cure with the money raised by the challenge, Frates’ endeavors should still be deemed a win.

Supporters of Pete Frates can donate to the Peter Frates Family Foundation. His funeral mass will be on Friday at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Chestnut Hill at 11 a.m.

READ MORE: The Tragedy of Joe Delaney: How an NFL Star Died a Hero Off the Field

Patrick Pinak About the author:
Patrick has spent parts of the last four years covering University of Florida athletics and spent two seasons with Major League Baseball. He's a baseball junkie who spends his days defending Derek Jeter and the Miami Marlins. A recent Gator grad, Patrick currently resides in Gainesville, Florida.
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