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Walsh declares Pete Frates Day in Boston to honor Ice Bucket Challenge icon

Pete Frates, former captain of the Boston College baseball team, was the inspiration behind the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised awareness and money for ALS.

Mayor Marty Walsh declared Tuesday to be Pete Frates Day in Boston, honoring the former Boston College baseball captain whose personal battle with ALS inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge.

The announcement was made with a celebration of Frates at Boston City Hall. On City Hall Plaza, Boston College’s marching band played music, cheerleaders performed and the school’s mascot, Baldwin the Eagle, stood by as Frates was honored.

Frates, a Beverly native, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, in March 2012 when he was 27 years old.

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Frates was a former captain of the Boston College baseball team and played baseball professionally in Europe before his diagnosis.

Since then, Frates and his family have worked to raise awareness for the neurodegenerative disease, most notably sparking the viral Ice Bucket Challenge.

That campaign helped raise more than $220 million worldwide and resulted in the identification of a new gene behind ALS.

“Pete Frates has become a symbol of courage and determination first to New Englanders as captain of the Boston College Eagles baseball team and now to the entire world by championing a cure for the deadly disease known as ALS,” Walsh wrote in a proclamation declaring Sept. 5 as Pete Frates Day.

“The city of Boston, the ALS community and organizations around the world acknowledge the historic contribution and positive impact that Pete Frates has made in bringing people of different races, religions and cultures together in an effort to help mankind,” the proclamation continued.

The City Hall event coincided with the release of a new book about Frates, “The Ice Bucket Challenge: Pete Frates and the Fight Against ALS," written by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge.

“As Casey and I were writing this book, we were just blown away with strength of the whole family,” Wedge said at the City Hall event. When introducing Frates’ mother, Nancy, Wedge noted that she has been one of the leading advocates in the country and around the world in the fight against ALS.

“We should all thank her for that,” Wedge said, “because it’s a big part of why we wrote this book and why the Ice Bucket Challenge exists, to continue to raise awareness and to drive research.”

Frates’ wife, Julie, also addressed the City Hall crowd, noting how much Boston means to Pete, “not just as an avid sports fan, but as the community that has showed us continued and unwavering support through our journey with ALS,” she said.

“The fact is,” she added, “without this city, there would be no Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon, and this disease wouldn't have been put on the map like it has been.”

Along with the Frates family and the book authors, Boston Red Sox officials and the Boston College baseball team attended the City Hall celebration. Last month, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill declaring the first week of August as Ice Bucket Challenge Week in honor of Frates.

 
 
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