As Boston College students, we try to embody the maxims that the school puts forth: “men and women for others,” “set the world aflame,” and “ever to excel,” to name a few. While our time at BC gives us the opportunity to work towards these ways of life, a special, select few go above and beyond these calls to make an impact more far-reaching than these mottos could ever hope to do.
Pete Frates, without a doubt, resides in that category.
Frates, who championed the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for ALS, passed away on Dec. 9 after a courageous fight with the disease. Defying the odds, Frates lived for seven years after diagnosis, making every moment count more than the last.
“Upon my diagnosis, it became abundantly clear that my calling was to raise ALS awareness and to fight for a brighter future for all those affected today and those yet to come,” wrote Frates in a piece for Bleacher Report.
When confronted with the most difficult challenge of his life, Frates’ admirable character transformed his misfortune from a setback into a motivation to combat ALS in ways that brought awareness and research to new and improved heights.
A Massachusetts native, Frates graduated from St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass. before joining the Boston College baseball team in 2004. He captained the team during his senior year in 2007, just the beginning of the unparalleled leadership Frates would exemplify throughout the rest of his life.
After being diagnosed with ALS in 2012 at age 27, an uncertain road lay ahead for Frates and his family. But that didn’t stop him from living a life that personified love, compassion, and devotion towards those who were lucky enough to know him, as well as the millions of people rooting for him and his cause.
The next few years brought memorable changes to Frates’ life, between marrying his wife Julie in 2013 and the birth of their daughter, Lucy, in 2014.
In 2014, Frates began the most sweeping and remarkable contribution of his life: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
With the help of Patrick Quinn, an ALS patient whom Frates befriended after meeting online, Frates garnered national attention for the social media challenge during the summer months. Through extensive social media efforts, Frates had everyone from your next-door neighbor to Bill Gates dumping ice water on their heads.
Thanks to the momentous efforts of the Ice Bucket Challenge, over $220 million went to funding research and better care options for ALS. The money raised from the challenge led scientists to discover a new gene that contributes to the disease, a helpful step forward in finding a cure.
Pete Frates far outpaced the model BC student, becoming a role model himself for generations to come. In the face of devastating adversity, Frates never lost sight of the hope that his time here would forge a promising future for all those affected by ALS.
In a statement from the Frates family, they ask us to carry on Pete’s legacy by following his powerful daily sentiment: “Be passionate, be genuine, be hardworking, and don’t ever be afraid to be great.”
No amount of awards or nominations could come close to giving justice to the impact Frates had on the global community. He revolutionized the way we look at ALS, as well as the way we all should look at ourselves. The world is a better place thanks to the hope and determination Pete Frates spread to all.
Frates will forever serve as an ideal exemplar of finding your purpose of being on this earth, no matter what curveballs life throws at you.