Despite the summer heat, the first days of August in Massachusetts just got a little cooler after “Ice Bucket Challenge Week” was established Tuesday.
Governor Charlie Baker signed into law legislation that designates the first week of August each year as Ice Bucket Challenge Week. The act recognizes the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis awareness and fund-raising campaign that went viral and its co-founder Pete Frates, 32, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012.
“Pete Frates took a horrible, personal tragedy and turned it into something positive and inspiring for millions of people around the world with the Ice Bucket Challenge,” Baker said in a statement Tuesday. “I am honored to sign legislation to recognize the efforts of Pete, his family and all those fighting to increase awareness and find a cure for ALS.”
The challenge rose to prominence through the spread of videos on social media in which participants doused themselves in cold water to garner contributions for ALS research. More than 2.4 million of the videos and subsequent contributions have generated tens of millions of dollars for ALS research, including more than $115 million to the ALS Association.
Baker himself participated in the challenge in August 2015 on the State House steps, joined by Frates, his family, and other state legislators.
The Act Establishing The First Week In August As Ice Bucket Challenge Week provides that the governor make an annual proclamation highlighting the week, which Baker issued Tuesday.
“Thanks to the ingenuity of Pete Frates, his family, and the funds raised through the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’, breakthrough discoveries have been made in ALS research,” Baker said in the proclamation.
“The Frates family have been amazing advocates for those fighting ALS, bringing an incredible level of awareness to this devastating disease,” state Senator Joan Lovely, a Salem Democrat, said in the statement. “I am very pleased that the legislature and Governor Baker has chosen to honor Pete Frates and the whole Frates family, who continue to fight this disease, and officially recognize Ice Bucket Challenge Week.”
“I’m so proud to have co-sponsored this bill with Senator Lovely and to have had the opportunity to work with such a remarkable family,” state Representative Jerry Parisella, a Beverly Democrat, said in the statement. “I’m honored to recognize the incredible work that Pete and the Frates families have done to raise money and awareness about this dreaded disease. Lives will forever be positively affected because of their efforts.”
Frates is still fighting ALS, but is back home after spending time in Massachusetts General Hospital earlier this year. Despite the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge, Frates still faces mounting medical bills for his own care.Ben Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org