Pete Frates, Local Hero and “Ice Bucket Challenge” Legend, Has Died

"He was a beacon of hope for all," his family says.

Former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates, center left, and his brother Andrew, center right, pose for a photo with members of the Boston College baseball team after Pete was presented with the 2017 NCAA Inspiration Award, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, at his home in Beverly, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Pete Frates, the Boston athlete and icon of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” phenomenon, has died, his family says in an announcement released Monday.

“Today Heaven received our angel,” the family wrote in a message shared on the Boston College website.”Pete was an inspiration to so many people around the world who drew strength from his courage and resiliency.”

Frates, 34, was a celebrated baseball player for Boston College who in 2011 was diagnosed with ALS, a rare and mysterious degenerative disorder. He gained renown in Boston and around the world in 2014, when videos of people dumping buckets of ice over their heads to raise awareness for the disease were all but inescapable. In just over a year, the “Ice Bucket Challenge” raised some $115 million for research, and offered a light-hearted platform for people to learn about ALS and connect with families whose loved ones shared his diagnosis.

He became a household name in Boston especially, and was spotted at Red Sox games and at countless other local events leading ice bucket dumps (when it was his turn, he used ping pong balls). In 2017, Boston declared September 5 “Pete Frates Day” in the city.

The family has invited supporters to make a donation in his honor to the Peter Frates Family Foundation. A funeral is planned at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Chestnut Hill, and there are plans in the works to hold a celebration of his life elsewhere.

“Remarkably, Pete never complained about his illness,” the family’s statement reads. “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.  As a result, through his determination—along with his faithful supporters, Team Frate Train—he championed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. In August of 2014, the historic movement pioneered social media fundraising and garnered donations globally that resulted in better access to ALS care, genetic discoveries, treatments and, someday, a cure. He was a beacon of hope for all.”