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Pete Frates, face of Ice Bucket Challenge, honored by Sports Illustrated

Julie Frates, Pete Frates and family attended the Sports Ilustrated Sportsman Of The Year 2014 Ceremony.
Julie Frates, Pete Frates and family attended the Sports Ilustrated Sportsman Of The Year 2014 Ceremony. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated honored Pete Frates and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge as the “Inspiration of the Year” Tuesday at SI’s Sportsman of the Year Award Gala in New York City.

Former US President Bill Clinton and Magic Johnson praised the former Boston College baseball captain, who helped popularize the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised millions of dollars this summer for ALS, an incurable neurodegenerative disease.

Clinton said Frates “inspired all of us with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.”

“Someday, thanks to the human genome research and other medical achievements, we will unlock the mystery of ALS,” he said. “And when that happens, all of you who are still around can remember the Ice Bucket Challenge and how it impacted us.”

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Pete Frates
Pete FratesMichael Loccisano/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

Johnson said he took the Ice Bucket Challenge, and “used ice even though [NBA commissioner] Adam [Silver] didn’t”.

“I think that you’ve changed us all - our mindset,” he said. “And you got all of us involved. Blessings to you.”

Frates is largely responsible for the challenge going viral and raising millions of dollars for ALS research and support. Ethel Kennedy, Bill Belichick, politicians, celebrities and many more dumped a bucket of ice water over their heads and challenged others to do the same within 24 hours, or make a donation to the ALS cause.

“We have never seen anything like this in the history of the disease,” Barbara Newhouse, president and chief executive of the nonprofit ALS Association, told the Globe in August. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the level of compassion, generosity, and sense of humor that people are exhibiting as they take part in this viral initiative.”

The SI event honored athletes who “greatly impacted the sports conversation of 2014,” including: San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner as the 2014 Sportsman of the Year, NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson with The Legacy Award, and Little Leaguer Mo’ne Davis as the 2014 Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKid of the Year.

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Katherine Landergan can be reached at katherine.landergan1@gmail.com.