Patrick Quinn, who helped popularize the viral Ice Bucket Challenge that has raised over $220 million for global research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, died on Sunday, according to the ALS Association. He was 37.
Along with Peter Frates and Anthony Senerchia, who both also died from the disease, Quinn is credited by the association with co-creating the 2014 challenge that became a viral sensation and helped support research and treatment of ALS.
The men’s spin on the trend, in which social media users filmed themselves being doused in a bucket of ice-water and then nominating friends to do the same, encouraged participants to donate to ALS research after completing the challenge.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease after the New York Yankees star whose career it cut short, rapidly destroys the body’s nerve cells that control the muscles that allow movement, speaking, eating and even breathing. There is no known cure.
The Ice Bucket Challenge proved hugely popular, with videos of high-profile participants from Bill Gates, to Lady Gaga and former President George W. Bush clocking millions of hits. It was also successful in raising awareness and funds for the disease.
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“It dramatically accelerated the fight against ALS, leading to new research discoveries, expanded care for people living with ALS, and significant investment from the government in ALS research,” the ALS Association wrote in a statement on its website on Sunday.
Quinn, who was from Yonkers, New York, and went by Pat, was diagnosed with the illness a month after his 30th birthday in 2013. He had posted a photo of himself from hospital to Twitter on Nov. 20, two days before his death, with hopes that he would be able to go home soon after being admitted with trouble breathing.
About 20,000 people in the United States have ALS, according to the CDC. It typically strikes between the ages of 40 and 70, and average life expectancy after symptoms begin is three years, the ALS Association says.
“The Ice Bucket Challenge connected with a sweet left hook to the jaw of ALS and shook the disease up,” Quinn told a crowd in Boston in 2019, five years after the social media campaign.
“But by no means is this fight over. We need to knock this disease out.”
Caitlin Fichtel contributed.