By IVAN PEREIRA, JOHN KAPETANEAS and ZOE LAKE, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — The co-creator of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge died Sunday following his long battle with the neurodegenerative disease.
Pat Quinn’s family posted on social media that the 37-year-old from Yonkers, New York, passed away in the morning. Quinn and Pete Frates launched the viral video campaign where people around the world poured ice-cold water over themselves and then nominated others to do the same to raise awareness and fund research into ALS.
“He was a blessing to us all in so many ways,” the family wrote on his social media page.
ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease after the Yankees legend who lost his life to it in 1941, is a neurological disease that mainly affects nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary movements, such as walking, chewing and talking, according to the National Institutes of Health. There is no known cure, and scientists have worked for decades to determine a cause.
Quinn was diagnosed with ALS in 2013, a month after his 30th birthday, according to the ALS Association. He and Frates were friends and started two online groups, Quinn for the Win and Team Frate Train, to raise awareness and funds for the fight against ALS.
Their online presence and connections led to the co-creation of the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014. Quinn and Frates saw fellow New York ALS patient Anthony Senerchia perform the challenge on his social media page and amplified the campaign, the ALS Association said.
Quinn and Frates recorded their own Ice Bucket videos and reached out to athletes, including Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, to participate and raise awareness and donations.
During the summer of 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge included several big-name supporters and donors including Lady Gaga, Oprah Winfrey and Meghan Markle. Quinn told ABC’s Nightline in an interview last year that he was surprised by how fast the campaign grew around the world.
“I am a huge basketball fan, so when people like Michael Jordan and Lebron James got involved, I lost it,” he told Nightline.
The campaign raised $220 million for ALS research and sparked a wave of studies and development into finding new treatments.
“Pat fought ALS with positivity and bravery and inspired all around him. Those of us who knew him are devastated but grateful for all he did to advance the fight against ALS,” the ALS Association said in a statement.
Frates died last year, and Senerchia died in 2017.
Quinn continued to conduct the challenge in the subsequent years, and he spoke around the country about the need for more awareness about the disease.
“The Ice Bucket Challenge connected with a sweet left hook to the jaw of ALS and shook the disease up, but by no means is this fight over. We need to knock this disease out,” he said at an event in Boston last year to mark the campaign’s fifth anniversary.
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