‘Boston was so lucky to have you’: Community mourning loss of Pete Frates

BEVERLY, MASS. (WHDH) - Many heartbroken state officials, city leaders, and star athletes took to social media Monday to express deeply felt messages following the passing of 34-year-old Pete Frates, a former college baseball player whose battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis helped inspire the ice bucket challenge.

Frates died peacefully as his loved ones looked on, his family announced in a statement.

“Today Heaven received our angel,” the statement read in part.

Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, helped raise more than $200 million for research through the Ice Bucket Challenge — a viral social media movement that involved people pouring ice water over their heads and making a commitment to donate to the cause.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that leads to paralysis due to the death of motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain. There is no known cure.

Thousands of people participated in the challenge, including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

“Peter Frates was one of the most courageous and inspirational people I have ever met. He and his family changed the world for ALS patients and their families,” Baker said in a tweet. “Rest in peace, Pete. You earned it.”

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh added, “Pete, you changed our city and our country for the better and made a difference in the lives of countless people. You helped us remember that we’re all one family and we have to look out for one another. There’s no telling how much good you’ve set in motion. RIP, my friend.”

Frates, who played baseball at Boston College and had his No. 3 jersey retired, befriended former Boston Red Sox star, David Ortiz.

“You changed the world, Pete. I’m so very proud to have called you my friend. Heart hurts a lot today but your name and legacy will live on forever,” Ortiz said in a tweet. “Rest easy my friend. We’ll continue to spread your word. Boston was so lucky to have you.”

In a statement, Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said it was privilege to have known Frates.

“Behind every Red Sox fan, there’s a story. We are so very proud that Pete’s story led him through Fenway Park as a player, and later, as an icon and member of our family,” Kennedy said. “His legacy will affect generations of ALS patients nationwide, and his courage will be remembered by all of us. We were privileged to have known him, and honored that he was part of our team.”

The Boston Bruins said Frates’ “courage, determination, and fight” helped make the world a better place.

Carol Hamilton, senior director of development at the ALS Therapy Development Institute, says Frates certainly left his mark on the hunt for an ALS cure.

“Pete knew that it was most likely going to be too late for him,” she said, “and that’s what makes him so noble and such a hero.”

John Hedstrom, the executive director of the ALS Association Massachusetts Chapter, added that “his legacy is that he has changed the game in our fight against ALS.”

Boston City Hall, the Zakim Bridge and the TD Garden were lit up in red to honor Frates.

The Boston Celtics also paid a tribute to him before Monday night’s game.

A candlelight vigil for Frates is planned at Pete’s Park in Beverly for 6 p.m.

This list of messages will be updated.

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