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Ice Bucket Challenge co-founder Pat Quinn dies at 37

Quinn’s passion in the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis helped launch the viral social media phenomenon that raised hundreds of millions for awareness and medical research.
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/ Source: TODAY

Pat Quinn, a man with ALS who played an instrumental role in the viral Ice Bucket Challenge and who served as a passionate advocate for others with the disease, died Sunday at the age of 37.

Quinn was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2013. By the following year, the Yonkers native helped popularized the social media sensation that raised funds for awareness and medical research into the progressive, neurodegenerative disease that has no cure.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge co-founder Pat Quinn at the Washington Post's Ingenuity 2015 millennial entrepreneurship summit.Kate Warren / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Since 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge, which is held every August, has raised $115 million for the ALS Association and over $220 million around the world for ALS research.

“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 post honoring Quinn.

“Pat fought ALS with positivity and bravery and inspired all around him. Those of us who knew him are devastated but grateful for all he did to advance the fight against ALS," the organization said.

That was a message echoed by Quinn’s Alma Mater, Iona College.

“Pat was determined to Fight the Good Fight until the very end,” a memorial on the school’s website reads. “In his final Tweet, he asked friends to wish him luck as he was going home from the hospital, saying he still had much to do. His will to keep pushing in pursuit of another day and another laugh will remain in our hearts always.”

And his impact in the search for a cure for ALS is likely to remain, too, which was a hope he stated in a brief but moving speech at the 19th Annual Webby Awards.

Quinn won The Webby Award for Special Achievement in 2015, after the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge the previous year. When he took the stage to accept the award, he rallied others to continue the efforts, simply stating, “Every August until a cure.”

Quinn was one of three ALS patients who are often credited as co-founders of the social media challenge that saw celebrities and people from all walks of life daring their own friends to pour ice water on their heads, all in the name of a good cause.

He, along with fellow patients Pete Frates, who died last year, and Anthony Senerchia, who died in 2017, inspired millions to help.

According to the ALS Association, the Ice Bucket Challenge “became the biggest online fundraising phenomenon in history.“