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‘Role model for all’: Man who inspired viral ALS ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ dies

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The man who was the inspiration for the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which raised hundreds of millions of dollars for Lou Gehrig’s disease research, has died at age 34.

Pete Frates was a former Boston College baseball captain who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at the age of 27. After getting the diagnosis, Frates worked tirelessly to help find a cure for the debilitating disease.

“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,” Frates’s family said in a statement on Monday. “He was a noble fighter who inspired us all to use our talents and strengths in the service of others.

“Remarkably, Pete never complained about his illness. 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,” the family added.

The Massachusetts native set off a viral sensation through the Ice Bucket Challenge, in which participants filmed themselves or others comically pouring ice-cold water over their heads. After the stunt, the participant would nominate others and tell them they had 24 hours to complete the challenge or pay up to a charity funding ALS research.

At its peak in 2014, the challenge raised over $220 million for ALS research. The challenge was completed by celebrities such as Will Smith, Vin Diesel, Bill Gates, Tiger Woods, Martha Stewart, former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and many others.

ALS is an incurable disease that targets the neurons controlling muscles and leads to degeneration and eventual death. It became known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the famed baseball player was diagnosed.

“The Frates family wishes to express its sincere gratitude for the abundant love, kindness, and support we have been the recipients of during the past eight years,” the family concluded.