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Pete Frates, Who Helped Raised Millions Through Ice Bucket Challenge, Has Died

Pete Frates, who lived with ALS for seven years and helped popularize the Ice Bucket Challenge, raising millions for ALS research, has died at age 34. Frates's family released a statement through his alma mater, Boston College, saying he had "passed away surrounded by his loving family, peacefully at age 34, after a heroic battle with ALS."

In 2014, just two years after his diagnosis, Frates became an inspiration to millions.

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Although amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, only affects about 12,000 people in the U.S., many others with their own challenges could look to him for inspiration in the face of a devastating diagnosis.

ALS has no cure and causes patients to gradually lose control over their muscles until they're completely paralyzed except for their eyes. Average life expectancy after an ALS diagnosis is two to five years, according to the ALS Association. Half of those with ALS live at least three more years, one in five live up to five more years, and just 10% live more than 10 years.

Frates is widely credited with being the inspirational force that made the Ice Bucket Challenge a cultural phenomenon in 2014.

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The Ice Bucket Challenge began in Florida, when golfer Chris Kennedy, nominated the wife of Anthony Snerchia, who lived with ALS, to douse herself with a bucket of ice water. Word reached Frates and fellow ALS warrior Pat Quinn, who encouraged people everywhere to share videos of themselves dumping ice water on their heads and raising money for ALS research.

The Ice Bucket Challenge reached far and wide.

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As a viral charity fundraiser, it would be hard to find anything quite as successful. Even former President George W. Bush participated, and in all, about 17 million people uploaded videos of themselves, which have been viewed more than 10 billion times.

The Ice Bucket Challenge raised more than $220 million worldwide, and the funds directly contributed to the discovery of five new genes connected with ALS. The ALS Association was also able to commit nearly $90 million in research funding up to 2018 and expanded its clinical network by 50%.

For their efforts, Frates and Quinn were nominated for Time's Person of the Year for 2014.

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They also received Sports Illustrated's Inspiration of the Year honor, and Frates earned the NCAA's Inspiration of the Year honor in 2017. His own bucket from the Ice Bucket Challenge, as well as some of his own memorabilia, has been donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Frates leaves behind his wife, Julie, and 5 year old daughter, Lucy.

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He will be remembered as an inspiration, the family's statement read. "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."

h/t: Today