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‘Pete Frates Day’ in Boston honors man who created ice bucket challenge for ALS

Pete Frates, who inspired the ice bucket challenge, looks at his wife, Julie, during a ceremony Tuesday at City Hall in Boston where Sept. 5 was declared Pete Frates Day by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
Pete Frates, who inspired the ice bucket challenge, looks at his wife, Julie, during a ceremony Tuesday at City Hall in Boston where Sept. 5 was declared Pete Frates Day by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. The Associated Press

In Boston, Sept. 5 will now be known as “Pete Frates Day.”

While you may not recognize his name, you likely know of or participated in a viral event he inspired.

Remember the ice bucket challenge? It was created after Frates, who played baseball at Boston College, was diagnosed in 2012 with ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The challenge had people on social media dousing themselves with buckets of ice water, then challenging others to do the same. Those challenged could continue to spread the word or donate money to ALS research – or both.

The word definitely got around. According to The Associated Press, the challenge, which began in 2014, has raised more than $200 million toward combating the disease.

Frates was honored Tuesday by the city of Boston during a City Hall ceremony attended by Frates’ family, Boston College’s baseball team and Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball.

“It shows when you have a great idea, you can have a rippling effect that reaches far beyond any one individual,” Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said in a speech addressing Frates. “I want to thank you on improving the lives of those struggling with this disease, for getting us closer to a cure, for pushing us all to live every single day.”

Frates, 32, can no longer move or speak, but his fight against ALS continues. A Life Story Foundation is still accepting donations toward research in the fight against this incurable disease.

It was named after Lou Gehrig, a New York Yankees star in the 1920s and ’30s who once held the longest streak of consecutive games played at 2,130. Gehrig gave a famous speech announcing his diagnosis and retirement from baseball in 1939, then died in 1941 at the age of 37.

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