Pete Frates, the inspiration for the Ice Bucket Challenge to benefit ALS, has died, according to his family.
The Beverly native and former Boston College baseball star was diagnosed with the progressive disease, known both as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Lou Gherig's disease, in 2012, when he was 27. He helped start the Ice Bucket Challenge two years later, and it immediately raised tens of millions of dollars for research into the disease.
"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 family said in a statement Monday.
The Ice Bucket Challenge, in which people record videos of themselves pouring buckets of ice over their heads before challenging several other people to do so as well, went massively viral in the summer of 2014, bringing in celebrities and average people alike.
It made Frates a nationally renowned figure as well, being named Sports Illustrated's "Inspiration of the Year" in 2014 and winning the NCAA Inspiration of the Year award in 2017.
He was even signed to an honorary contract with the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day in 2015 — the team would go on to give Frates his own World Series ring commemorating their 2018 victory.
Sept. 5 was named Pete Frates Day in Boston on that day in 2017.
His family remembered him as a global inspiration who never complained about having ALS:
Pete was an inspiration to so many people around the world who drew strength from his courage and resiliency. 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. He was a noble fighter who inspired us all to use our talents and strengths in the service of others.
The family urged others to celebrate Frates and his work " by following his daily affirmation: Be passionate, be genuine, be hardworking and don’t ever be afraid to be great."
Remembrances immediately began pouring in from Boston and beyond on Monday.
Boston College called Frates a beloved role model who exemplified the values of "courage, integrity, selflessness, and a commitment to helping others" that the university holds dear.
"The Peter Frates Center for baseball and softball in the Harrington Athletics Village will stand as a testament to his enduring legacy. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Frates family, who have been an inspiration in their loving devotion to Pete and the cause of ALS research," the university said in a statement.
Someone is diagnosed with ALS every 90 minutes. The progressive neurodegenerative disease causes muscle weakness, paralysis and ultimately respiratory failure.
There is no cure, but the Ice Bucket Challenge aimed to change that by raising awareness and funds for research — some of that money helped the University of Massachusetts Medical School identify a new ALS gene.
As the Ice Bucket Challenge spread in 2014, more than 17 million people posted videos of themselves participating in the challenge and their videos were watched about 10 billion times. It raised about $220 million for ALS charities worldwide in the first year alone.
Frates' funeral will be held at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Chestnut Hill on Friday at 11 a.m., followed by a celebration of his life in Boston's North Shore at a to-be-determined date.
The family said that anyone who would like to make a donation in Frates' honor donate to the family's foundation, Peter Frates Family Foundation, 21 Landers Drive, Beverly, MA 01915 or through petefrates.com/donate.