Peter Frates, the man with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, who inspired and championed a social media challenge to raise awareness of the neurodegenerative disease, has died at the age of 34.
Frates' family confirmed the news of his death Monday in a statement that reflected on his courage and resiliency in the face of ALS.
"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," the statement said. "He was a noble fighter who inspired us all to use our talents and strengths in the service of others."
His family also said that Frates never complained about his diagnosis and instead saw his illness as an opportunity.
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Frates was a former Boston College baseball player who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012. He helped create a viral social media sensation, the Ice Bucket Challenge, that raised both awareness and funds for the disease.
The challenge raised more than $200 million worldwide, according to the ALS Association, as people shared videos in which they had buckets of ice water poured on themselves. People who participated then challenged friends to do the same, along with asking for a donation to the ALS Association.
ALS is more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, in honor of the New York Yankees first baseman who was diagnosed with the disorder in 1939. Gehrig retired from professional baseball two days later, and noted in his famous speech to the public that he was the "luckiest man on the face of the earth."
Brian Frederick, vice president of communications for the ALS Association, told NBC News on Monday that more than 17 million people participated in the challenge and resulted in 2.5 million donors to ALS causes.
Frates' alma mater, Boston College, offered condolences to his family in a statement Monday.
"He accepted his illness and devoted the remaining years of his life to raising awareness of ALS and helping to raise money for a cure," the school said. "He is a role model for all BC students and a beloved figure on our campus."
Frates is survived by his wife, Julie, and their young daughter Lucy. His family has asked that people consider donating to the Peter Frates Family Foundation in his memory.