Nancy Frates: A challenge becomes a worldwide phenomenon

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Nancy Frates Nancy Frates talks about helping start the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to bring awareness to her son’s disease.

When lifelong athlete Pete Frates’ wrist never recovered from an injury, the diagnosis wasn’t a fracture or even nerve damage, it was ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The night of his diagnosis, the then 27-year-old gathered his family and made his mission crystal clear: activism was his new calling.

His goal: to raise awareness for ALS around the globe, and to bring the disease to the attention of the world’s biggest philanthropists. His family and friends, known as “Team Frate Train”, took to the road, speaking at conferences, events, on television, and any outlet available to them to help spread awareness.

Nancy Frates is Pete’s mother.

“We knew if we built awareness, people would open their hearts to our story and then they’d open their wallets,” says Nancy.

Nancy Frates: A challenge becomes a worldwide phenomenon

Nancy Frates: A challenge becomes a worldwide phenomenon

Nancy Frates shares her family's story about helping start the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.


A career woman, turned ALS activist, Nancy, with the help of her family, championed an amazing social movement inspired by her son’s diagnosis and his desire to make a difference. In the summer of 2014, their message went online. That’s when the Ice Bucket Challenge took social media by storm.

“When they saw it, they knew it was the vehicle,” explains Nancy. “That’s exactly what Pete said, he said, ‘Mom, as soon as I saw it, I knew this was it’.”

The movement helped raise millions of dollars for ALS—well over $100 million. And donations poured in from all across the globe.

Nancy joined Mike Walter in our New York studio to share her family’s story about going viral.