Public figures, ALS advocacy groups and researchers on Monday mourned the passing of 34-year-old Pete Frates, the former BC baseball star who popularized the ICE Bucket Challenge and worked relentlessly to raise awareness about the disease after being diagnosed with it in 2012.
“@PeteFrates3 was one the most courageous and inspirational people I have ever met,” said Governor Charlie Baker via Twitter. “He and his family changed the world for ALS patients & their families. Rest In Peace Pete. You earned it. #alschampion”
Baker’s words were echoed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh.
“Pete, you changed our city & our country for the better and made a difference in the lives of countless people,” Walsh tweeted. “You helped us remember that we’re all one family & we have to look out for one another. There’s no telling how much good you’ve set in motion. RIP, my friend.”
Juliette Kayyem, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, said Frates’s resiliency was an inspiration to many.
"Imagine you have a life ending disease and instead of wallowing in self-pity or destructive behavior, or understandably spending precious moments with just family and friends, you galvanize a movement to help others who may still have time,” Kayyem tweeted. “Don’t imagine. He did it.”
Jan Cellucci, whose husband, former Governor Paul Celluci died from ALS in 2013, issued a poignant tribute to Frates touching on the shared experiences of both families.
“RIP dear Pete,” Jan Cellucci wrote. “The Cellucci Family knows all too well the alternately joyous and heart wrenching journey you and your family have been on.”
Frates raised millions for ALS research, and on Monday the Cox Lab at the Jackson Laboratory, a group of scientists in Maine working on ALS and other diseases, said his advocacy was a boon to their work.
“Pete’s advocacy for ALS awareness has had amazing, widespread, long-lasting effects for ALS patients, caregivers, and researchers,” the lab tweeted. “His legacy will live on. #StrikeOutALS”
Project ALS, a New York-based group that funds research initiatives, also offered condolences.
“[O]ur condolences to Pete Frates’ family during this difficult time,” the group tweeted. “Thank you, Pete, for everything you’ve done for the ALS community.”
And the ALS Association, another advocacy group, said its members’ "hearts go out to the entire Frates family and the Boston community. Pete Frates changed the trajectory of ALS forever and showed the world how to live with a fatal disease. 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.”
In Beverly, Frates’s hometown, local officials were also saddened by the news of Frates’s death.
“The entire Beverly Police Department and citizens of Beverly want to express our sincere condolences on the passing of Beverly’s Pete Frates,” said Beverly police Chief John LeLacheur tweeted. “We ask that you please give the family some time to grieve.”
LaLacheur was among the chorus of law enforcement officials who paid tribute to Frates on Monday.
“Our thoughts go out to the Frates family, hearing about the loss of Pete,” State Police tweeted. “He was a strong man, one of the toughest we’ve met. We were proud to take part in his Ice Bucket Challenge initiative. @MomFrates, he will be forever in our minds, as will you and your family.”
State Senator Joan B. Lovely, whose district includes Beverly, said via Twitter that Frates’s death was “heartbreaking.”
“Despite living w/a terminal disease, Pete (& his family) dedicated his final yrs to raising awareness of ALS & $ for ALS research,” Lovely wrote. “Pete’s advocacy, courage, & unbreakable spirit will continue to live on. #StrikeOutALS”
State Veterans’ Services Secretary Francisco Urena also referenced Frates’s fighting spirit.
“A fighter through and through," Urena tweeted. “Rest in Peace @PeteFrates3. My sincerest condolences to the Frates family.”