ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Pat Quinn passes away

Pat Quinn was the co-founder of the ALS ice bucket challenge, which raised millions of dollars for research on a motor neuron disease.

Pat Quinn, a co-founder of the social media ALS ice bucket challenge — which has raised more than $200 million worldwide for Lou Gehrig's disease research — died on Sunday at the age of 37, according to the ALS Association.

Pat was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013, a month after his 30th birthday, the organisation said in a statement announcing his death.

In 2014, Quinn saw the ice bucket challenge on the social media feed of professional golfer Chris Kennedy, who first dared his wife's cousin Jeanette Senerchia to take a bucket of ice water, dump it over her head, post a video on social media and ask others to do the same or to make a donation to charity. Senerchia's husband had ALS.

Quinn and co-founder Pete Frates, along with their teams of supporters, helped popularise the challenge.

The ALS Association said Quinn knew it was the key to raising ALS awareness, calling it the greatest social media campaign in history.

Frates, a former Boston College baseball player, died in December 2019 at the age of 34.

When the two picked it up, the phenomenon exploded, the organisation said.

Thousands of people participated in the viral trend, including celebrities, sports stars and politicians even Donald Trump before his election and cartoon character Homer Simpson. Online videos were viewed millions of times.

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 organisation's statement said.

Lou Gehrig's disease, named after the New York Yankees great who suffered from it is also known as ALS or motor neuron disease. It 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.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta