Activism

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Co-Creator Dies At 37

Patrick Quinn, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2013, helped amplify the Ice Bucket Challenge fundraising campaign, which raised more than $220 million for research on the disease.

Patrick Quinn died on Sunday at the age of 37, according to an announcement from the ALS Association. | Facebook/The ALS Association
Patrick Quinn died on Sunday at the age of 37, according to an announcement from the ALS Association. | Facebook/The ALS Association

Patrick Quinn, who helped popularize the Ice Bucket Challenge fundraising campaign, died on Sunday at the age of 37, according to an announcement from the ALS Association.

“Pat was diagnosed with ALS in 2013 and went on to help popularize the greatest social media campaign in history,” the association said in a Facebook post Sunday. “The Ice Bucket challenge dramatically accelerated the fight against ALS, leading to new research discoveries, expansion of care for people with ALS, and greater investment by the government in ALS research.”

The challenge resulted in $115 million in donations for The ALS Association and more than $220 million around the world for ALS research, according to the association.

At the challenge’s peak in 2014, everyone from celebrities to athletes to billionaires posted videos dumping buckets of ice water on their heads and challenging others to do the same while encouraging donations for ALS research.

According to the association, Quinn, who lived in Yonkers, NY, created “Quinn for the Win” shortly after he was diagnosed, to raise awareness and funds to fight ALS. 

He was inspired to do so by his friend Pete Frates, who had created his own ALS group called Team FrateTrain. Quinn then saw the Ice Bucket Challenge shared on social media by the friends and family of Anthony Senerchia, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2003, and knew he wanted to popularize the campaign. 

Together with Frates and their combined supporters, Quinn raised awareness for the challenge, which then swept social media in the summer of 2014. Senerchia died of the disease in 2017, and Frates died in 2019. 

“Pat changed the trajectory of the fight against A.L.S. forever,” Calaneet Balas, the president and chief executive of the A.L.S. Association, said in a statement on Sunday. “He inspired millions to get involved and care about people who are living with A.L.S.”

Condolences for Quinn poured in online following news of his passing. 

“2020 has been hard, I have lost many of my heroes, and Pat was one of my personal heroes,” NYS Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a Sunday statement. “Pat made the best of the worst situation. He taught us how to never give up hope and to fight for a better future. He will be greatly missed and always remembered. My heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and all who knew him."

ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, for which there is currently no cure. About 20,000 people in the United States have ALS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention