Agent’s Son Who Popularized Ice Bucket Challenge Dies at 34

December 12, 2019

Pete Frates, the inspiration behind the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that swept the the world in 2014, died at age 34 on Monday. He was one son of Nancy Frates, a former real estate professional with Keller Williams in Beverly, Mass.

Frates, diagnosed in his late 20s with ALS, became the face to a worldwide phenomenon known as the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014. The fundraiser has been credited with raising more than $200 million worldwide for ALS research.

The Ice Bucket Challenge took the nation by storm in 2014, prompting thousands to pick up buckets of ice, fling it over their head, challenge others, and share videos on social media while donating to support ALS research.

Frates reportedly died peacefully on Monday, surrounded by his family, a statement said following his death

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

Lou Gehrig’s disease is a progressive disease that kills nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and eventually leads to paralysis. There is no known cure.

“Pete Frates changed the trajectory of ALS forever and showed the world how to live with a fatal disease," the ALS Association said in a statement following his death. "He inspired everyone he met and his efforts to lead the Ice Bucket Challenge had a significant impact on the search for treatments and a cure for ALS."

Frates was an athlete who played baseball at Boston College as well as professionally in Germany and in amateur leagues in the U.S. In March 2012, in his late 20s, he was diagnosed with ALS.

Frates is survived by his wife, Julie; daughter, Lucy; parents, John and Nancy; and siblings, Andrew and Jennifer.

Frates’ mother Nancy left her career in real estate shortly after 2014 to become a full-time advocate for ALS patients. She has lobbied before Congress and continues fundraising and public speaking efforts in advocating for a cure.

Speaking at the Good Neighbors Award gala at the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo, Nancy Frates shared her son’s journey, the growth of the Ice Bucket Challenge, and the family’s commitment to finding a cure. It was her son’s common phrase that she kept returning to that she had said at the time served as inspiration for their work: “Be passionate, be genuine, be hardworking, and don’t be afraid to be great.”