The co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, which has raised more than $ 200 million (£ 150 million) worldwide for motor neuron disease research, has passed away at the age of 37.
Pat Quinn was diagnosed with motor neuron disease – known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the US – in 2013, one month after his 30th birthday.
In 2014, Mr. Quinn took the ice bucket challenge on the social media feed of professional golfer Chris Kennedy, who first challenged his wife’s cousin, Jeanette Senerchia, to take a bucket of ice water, throw it over her head, a video on posting to social media and asking others to do the same or make a donation to charity.
Mrs. Senerchia’s husband had the disease.
Mr. Quinn and co-founder Pete Frates, along with their teams of supporters, helped popularize the challenge.
The ALS Association said Mr. Quinn “knew this was the key to raising ALS awareness,” calling it “the greatest social media campaign in history.”
Mr. Frates, a former Boston College baseball player, passed away in December 2019 at the age of 34.
When the two men took up the challenge, the phenomenon exploded, the organization said. Thousands of people took part in the viral trend, including celebrities, sports stars and politicians – even Donald Trump before his election and cartoon character Homer Simpson.
Online videos of the challenge have been viewed millions of times.
The ALS Association said, “Pat fought ALS with positivity and courage, inspiring all around him.
“Those of us who knew him are devastated but grateful for everything he has done to advance the fight against ALS. Our thoughts are with the Quinn family and all of their friends and supporters. Pat was loved by many of us in the ALS community and around the world.
“It has dramatically accelerated the fight against ALS, leading to new research discoveries, extensive care for people with ALS and significant government investment in ALS research.
Motor neuron disease 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.
In the US, it was called Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the New York Yankees baseball great who also suffered from it.
The organization added that Mr. Quinn continued to raise awareness and funds after popularizing the challenge.
In 2015, the association honored him as “ALS Heroes” – an award given to people living with the disease who have had a significant positive impact on the fight against it.
On the fifth anniversary of the challenge, Mr. Quinn, hailing from Yonkers, New York, added a crowd in Boston.
“No one knew the ice bucket challenge was going to be a global phenomenon, but we united because that’s what it takes to change a disease like ALS,” he said.
“There are warriors all over the world who will not accept it as a death sentence.
“We will never stop fighting together. I will not leave this earth until I know that the next person diagnosed with ALS has a real plan to live with this disease, not just die from it. “