Co-founder of viral Ice Bucket Challenge, dies from ALS at age 37
Pat Quinn, who helped make the Ice Bucket Challenge go viral, died Sunday after a seven-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He was 37.
The ALS Association announced the death of the “ALS hero and co-founder of the ice bucket challenge,” calling him “an inspiration to millions of people around the world.”
The Yonkers, N.Y., native was diagnosed with the nervous system disease — which affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, making it hard to walk, speak, eat, swallow and breathe — just after his 30th birthday. As a result, his friends and family rallied around him — a support group called “Team Quinn for the Win — in an effort to raise awareness and funds toward ALS research.
In 2014, Quinn saw the cool challenge on the social media feed of the late Anthony Senerchia, who lived near him in Westchester County, N.Y., and was also battling ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). So Quinn’s and the late Pete Frates’s supporters (Team Frate Train) ran with the concept, turning “the challenge into the biggest social media phenomenon in history,” according to the ALS Association.
The challenge raised $115 million for the non-profit and over $220 million around the world for ALS research, leading to important advancements in the study of it.
Practically every celebrity got in the action, which saw them having a bucket of ice-cold water dumped on them. Participants were also supposed to donate to the ALS Association — and nominate other people to do the same and get soaked.
Some memorable challenges came from Justin Timberlake and his band doing a group pour:
Oprah Winfrey screamed her head off when BFF Gayle King made the dump:
On the other hand, Lady Gaga was expressionless:
Hayden Panettiere used the challenge to confirm her pregnancy:
Chris Pratt was going to do it his own way — then got all wet, courtesy of his then-wife Anna Faris:
Amy Schumer missed the memo about it being ice:
Charlie Sheen skipped the ice and went straight for the cash, making a $10,000 donation.
And not just the famous got in the action — Facebook and Instagram timelines were non-stop chilly challenges.
Quinn was honored with Senerchia and Frates by the ALS Association as “ALS Heroes” in 2015. Now, all three of the men have passed away. (Senerchia in 2017 and Frates in 2019.)
Quinn continued to raise money toward ALS research in his final years, giving talks and holding an Ice Bucket Challenge in his hometown every year (“Every August Until a Cure”). He also started a social media campaign encouraging everyone to “FindUrSmile.”
There remains no cure and no effective treatment to halt or reverse, the progression of ALS, per the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.