The Man Behind The Ice Bucket Challenge – Pete Frates

Pete Frates #3

For the past two weeks, every time I open up my Facebook page, I see a new video of one of my friends accepting the ALS Water Bucket Challenge and then dumping a mixture of ice and water over their heads. In turn, they get to nominate 3 other individuals to do the same thing within 24 hours. It’s interesting and sometimes hilarious to watch, but I wanted to know where this challenge began and the motivation behind it.

Pete Frates: It turns out a 27-year-old named Peter Frates was diagnosed with ALS in 2012. He was a three sport athlete in high school and captain of his baseball team at Boston College. When told about the diagnosis and given roughly 1,000 days to live, his words were, “Ok, Let’s strap it on.” He made it his mission to raise awareness and funding for this little known disease and work towards a cure. In May of 2014, a friend introduced the ice bucket challenge and nominated others to take it in Pete’s honor. It has become a movement and a phenomenon. Last year the ALS association raised 2.5 million dollars. Since May, they have raised 80 million dollars and the total is growing by the hour.  Since his diagnosis, Pete has married his girlfriend and they are expecting a baby boy later this year…. and he has lost most of his physical abilities, including the ability to speak, walk or chew food.    (please watch this ESPN video)

ALS: This disease was made famous when Lou Gehrig, a famous major league baseball player, announced that he had this little known disease in 1939 in the prime of his career.  Very few people knew this disease so many referred to it as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” (Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech)

ALS is a neuro-degenerative disease. This disease impedes the neurons that send messages from the brain to the spinal cord. It is these messages that allow someone to walk, run, talk, chew, smile, lift an arm… As the disease progresses, a person loses more and more abilities, eventually dying because the brain can’t tell the body to even breathe.

  • This disease has no treatments or no cure.
  • The life expectancy from the time of diagnosis is 1,000 days, although some live beyond 5 years.
  • .00002% of the population is diagnosed with ALS or 2 out of every 100,000 people.
  • ALS can strike anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity or gender.

Joe’s Perspective: With so few people affected by ALS, the odds are that you will not get this disease or even directly know someone who has it. So, why should you care? We should all care about the .00002 percent who are afflicted with this disease. It is an awful disease and an inhumane way to die… with little or no hope. Scientists and doctors have been working on a possible treatment for decades. However, the funding is minuscule compared to diseases like cancer, AIDS or Alzheimer’s.  The individuals afflicted with ALS deserve the best effort from the best minds to help find a cure, so individuals like Pete Frates can watch their children grow.

Your Turn: Please place your comments below, (2) like and share our Facebook page (character development & leadership) or (3) tweet to @CDandLeadership using #icebucketchallenge)

1. To date, no one has challenged me to take the ice bucket challenge and I know my children would love to dump water over my head. So, if you are teaching this class or taking this class, I challenge you to post a video of yourself dumping ice-cold water over your head and then nominate me to do the same thing on the company’s Facebook page – I will then take the challenge and write a nice check to ALS.

2. This should provide a new context for the Week 2 Ethical Dilemma question, “If you knew you were going to die by the end of the semester, what one thing would you like to do before you die?” Many students have provided non-productive and attention-seeking answers.  If I were teaching this class now and I got those answers, I would play the video above and ask the question again. I would hope Pete Frates sets the standard for us all – cure a disease, marry your best friend, pass on your legacy and start a positive revolution.  So, what would you do?  




Comments 32

  1. I have completed the ice bucket challenge and sent the challenge out to other people. I think it is a worthy cause that people need to be made aware of. I hope that people that are challenged either complete it or donate to the cause.

  2. The ice bucket challenge is a good cause and I’ve seen people with this disease and it attacks the carrier. The people with the disease don’t have a chance but not many people know about this disease so the ice bucket challenge is a great way to spread awareness for the cause. Peter Frates accomplished many things he wanted to do and I think he deserved that happiness through being in his situation.

  3. The ice bucket challenge has shown significance influence on social media which has brought up ALS and debates regarding how I would live if diagnosed.
    I believe that Peter has lived his life as full as possible with his current condition. I respect him for not letting his disease control his life.

  4. If I were in Peter Frates shoes, I would like to think that I could accomplish as much as he did. By getting married and having a child, he didn’t let ALS stop him.

  5. Great comments everyone! I took am astonished at what he has done with his time left on earth. It would have been easy to turn on ESPN and lie in bed. He chose other options, despite the lousy prognosis. It makes me wonder if I would be that courageous! Still waiting for the challenge!

  6. This was really insightful, it not only connected to teens in a way of social media but it also threw in bits of information of the disease. It made me want to read to the end.

  7. It’s amazing how just one person that wants to raise awareness for something. How he came up with the ice bucket challenge to raise money for ALS and now millions of dollars has been donated for ALS. I’ve seen so many people on social media doing the ice bucket challenge. Everybody has their own opinion to the ice bucket challenge, but the fact that ONE person decided to do this, and has raised so much money for it recently, is pretty cool.

  8. this challenge is phenomonal and its amazing how someone did this and how this ice bucket challenge even became a thing.
    it even looks kind of fun to do
    way better then walking or jogging a mile.

  9. I have particpated in the ALS ice bukcet challenge and to me it proved that leadership is a key role in society. I never knew that so many people looked up to me, until we actually sat down and talked about it. To be leader you should motivate yourself and push yourself past your comfort zome and past what you think you are capable of into the extremties.

  10. The idea behind the ice bucket challenge is geinus and fun. i enjoyed watching everyone do this on Facebook. I feel like in this generation to raise money you have to make it fun.

  11. I have done the ice bucket challenge and have also donated. The whole thing is just amazing. How one man can start a national phenomena. I never even knew ALS was a thing until I saw people on Facebook doing it. It is a great way to raise awareness and money.

  12. I’ll be honest, I have been nominated to do the ice bucket challenge but never did it. I think it’s because it never really struck home about what the disease was. Now I’ve learned that in any awareness it’s extremely important to do your research on what the disease is and how it effects the lives of the people dealing with it and their family. Since I didn’t end up doing the ice bucket challenge I will be donating money to the cause because I now know how crucial that money is to finding a cure. Something I have taken from this is to be informed. Don’t be a person who just pushes things off to the side. Create personal ties to these people because with every moment they are struggling. Inform others on information like this. Give them details on where to donate money to. Be the change.

  13. The ice bucket challenge is a good way to help people realize about the seriousness of this disease. Even though there is no treatment for this disease, it’s at least a good thing to help others prepare for the consequences of having this disease. It’s important to be aware of what will happen to you.

  14. i think ALS ice bucket challenge is amazing . all these people out there helping raising money and putting time in to do the ice bucket challenge are great people .

  15. Reading about ALS made me put into perspective my problems and realize life isn’t that hard, many people have real problems and we take our lives for granted. If you were diagnosed with ALS no doubt it would not be easy to come to the reality. The fact is no one has found a cure for ALS which is very saddening but enjoying your life to the full with loved ones is very rewarding. Even though Pete Frates and few others are diagnosed with ALS they do not let the disease be them. Someone or anyone can be diagnosed with ALS so wouldn’t you want to to live your life to the full. I believe everyone should spend as much time with loved ones friends and family don’t take any moment for granted.

  16. I believe that this challenge is a good way to spread awareness, but it does kind of suck because we waste so much water. Also, many people used this as a trend and didn’t really donate any money, the thing that really mattered. The result in raising awareness was a great success raising over 100 million dollars for patients.

    If I were to spread awareness for a disease, I would do it by challenging people to do something that involved fitness, or acrobatics

  17. If i was diagnosed with this disease I would take the last days of my life to spread the knowledge of this disease and make people aware so they can donate money to help make a cure for others. I would also nominate my friends to do the ALS ice bucket challenge.

  18. My first symptoms of ALS occurred in 2014, but was diagnosed in 2016. I had severe symptoms ranging from shortness of breath, balance problems, couldn’t walk without a walker or a power chair, i had difficulty swallowing and fatigue. I was given medications which helped but only for a short burst of time, then I decided to try alternative measures and began on ALS Formula treatment from Tree of Life Health clinic. It has made a tremendous difference for me (Visit ). I had improved walking balance, increased appetite, muscle strength, improved eyesight and others. ]

  19. I stopped the ALS medications due to severe side effects. My care provider Dr Miller introduced me to Kykuyu Health Clinic and their amazing ALS/MND treatment. The herbal treatment is a miracle. The ALS natural formula immensely helped my condition, it reversed my ALS. my slurred speech. And then the inability to eat without getting choked, breathing, and coughing. gradually disappeared. DON’T GIVE UP HOPE!!!

  20. After my Lou Gehrig’s disease diagnosis, my primary care provider introduced me to Kycuyu Health Clinic and their ALS/MND Formula protocol, the herbal treatment has made a tremendous difference for me. My symptoms including numbness and muscle weakness all disappeared after the treatment plan!

  21. Google Kycuyu Health Clinic I had improved walking balance, increased appetite, muscle strength, just amazing how effective this treatment helped me

  22. With my amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the first thing that happened almost 2 years ago now, was speaking as if I were drunk. I wasn’t. I initially did improve speech (articulating clearly but slow) but now I can no longer speak in an acceptable way. Then, a year later eating became problematic, I was biting my tongue and lips, and chewing became weak and less controlled. Soon after that some fingers started to fail me and things would drop out of my hands. Somewhere at that time bulbar ALS was diagnosed. The Rilutek (riluzole) did very little to help me. The medical team did even less. My decline was rapid and devastating.. We tried every shot available but nothing was working. There has been little if any progress in finding a reliable treatment, Our care provider introduced us to Kycuyu Health Clinic ALS/MND herbal treatment. The treatment is a miracle.i recovered significantly

    1. Post

      Marcia, I am very sad this is happening to you. After reading so much about this disease, I don’t want anyone to have to go through it. It’s sad and cruel. I hope scientists can find a cure to save thousands of people from further suffering.

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