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Baker makes his icy pledge for ALS research

Governor Charlie Baker takes the ice bucket challenge to help find an ALS cure.
Governor Charlie Baker takes the ice bucket challenge to help find an ALS cure.

Dressed in a “Free Brady” T-shirt and jogging pants, Governor Charlie Baker launched the second round of the annual ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Monday on the State House steps, dumping ice water on his head and challenging other New England politicians to follow suit.

“It was wicked cold!” he said afterward.

Baker was joined by Pete Frates, members of the Frates family, state politicians, and State House workers — many of whom also participated in the challenge.

The Frates family created the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge last summer to support Pete, a former Boston College baseball player diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease.


Participants in the challenge are asked to dump a bucket of icy water on their heads or make a donation toward finding an ALS cure, and then challenge friends to do the same, according to the ALS Association website.

The initial challenge raised more than $250 million for ALS research, a member of the Frates family said. The second round is being launched with the social media hashtag #EveryAugustUntilACure.

“We’re here today to celebrate Round 2 of the most successful public awareness campaign in the history of the fight against ALS,” Baker said. “We’re here to show solidarity in the fight against this terrible disease.”

A drenched Governor Charlie Baker talked with Pete Frates, whose family initiated the ALS Ice Bucket challenge. Harrison Hill for The Boston Globe

Baker called on Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston and Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island to complete the challenge next.

Nancy Frates, Pete’s mother, said she was proud to have the governor’s support.

Baker has been to the Frates’s house for breakfast twice and they consider him a family friend, she said.

“It’s going to take a lot of money to get these treatments to the market,” Frates said. “But doctors told me the challenge has been a game-changer.”

Frates said the money from last year’s challenge went to the study of potential ALS cures. Donations from this year’s challenge are critical to funding more research and development, she said.


When her son was diagnosed, a doctor told Frates it would take $1 billion to find a cure for ALS.

They are now a quarter of the way there, Frates said.

“This is the tipping point in the fight against this disease,” she said. “Pete has become a champion throughout the world.”

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg also participated in the challenge. Polito said she expects to take it again soon with a community youth football league.

“Now that we’ve started, the challenge is to keep it going,” Goldberg said.

Baker said he donated to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge using its website, hosted by the non-profit ALS Association. He would not say how much he contributed.

He did share how he came to wear the “Free Brady” shirt.

“Something told me to go for it,” he said.

Astead W. Herndon can be reached at astead.herndon@ globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @AsteadWH