NCAA honors man who inspired ALS ice bucket challenge
BEVERLY, Mass. (AP) — The Massachusetts man who inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge that has raised millions of dollars for ALS research received a hand-delivered award from the NCAA on Tuesday.
Pete Frates, the former Boston College baseball captain who touched off the viral-video craze, was given the NCAA’s 2017 Inspiration Award at a ceremony in his living room.
“What you’ve been able to do to inspire so many people to support this cause is monumental and it is, in fact, inspirational,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said at the event. “We couldn’t be more proud to come here and present you and your family with this award.”
Officials with the collegiate sports organization arranged the personal delivery after saying that Frates would be unable to accept the award at the NCAA’s January awards celebration in Nashville, Tennessee, because his neurodegenerative disease was progressing.
Frates was diagnosed with the disease in 2012. It’s also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The ice bucket challenge raised more than $220 million when it took off worldwide on social media in 2014.
In the videos, scores of people dumped buckets of ice water over their heads and then nominated others to do the same — or else donate money to ALS research. Many did both. According to the ALS Association, the videos led to $115 million in donations in 2014 alone. The challenge has been revived every summer since.
At the ceremony Tuesday, Democratic U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton noted that Frates’ contribution has gone beyond inspiration — it’s had direct results.
“We made progress on ALS research that wouldn’t have happened without the money that Pete has helped raise,” Moulton said.
Along with friends and family, others who gathered in Frates’ living room included a representative for Gov. Charlie Baker, who was traveling in Israel, the Boston College baseball team and Boston College athletics director Brad Bates.
“When the Chancellor of Germany dumps a bucket of ice water on her head, you know you’ve had a global impact,” Bates said.
Frates, wearing a maroon blazer, accepted the award in a wheelchair alongside his wife, Julie Frates, and 2-year-old daughter, Lucy.
“Pete doesn’t ever, ever, ever get nervous for things like this and we were pretty nervous out there a few minutes ago — so that should tell you how much this means to us and our family,” Julie Frates said. “So thank you. This one is for this guy.”