Pat Quinn, co-founder of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, dies at 37

Liz Roscher
·2 min read

Pat Quinn, the co-founder of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, has died, according to the ALS Association. He was 37.

Quinn was diagnosed with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in March 2013, shortly after his 30th birthday. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, increasingly impacting muscle strength, motor function and breathing. Symptoms can sometimes be controlled with medication, but there is no cure.

Inspired by his friend Pete Frates, a former athlete and fellow ALS sufferer who died in 2019, Quinn co-founded the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014 to raise money for research as well as raise awareness of the disease. It turned into an internet sensation, with numerous athletes filming themselves getting doused by a bucket filled with ice and water.

The challenge, with a helping hand from athletes, celebrities, and the internet, was hugely successful. It made a tangible difference in the fight against ALS.

Via the ALS Association website:

The Ice Bucket Challenge went on to raise $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.

Quinn lived seven years after his initial ALS diagnosis, fighting the disease “with positivity and bravery.” At a speech he gave at the Ice Bucket Challenge 5th anniversary gathering, he encouraged people to live meaningfully and take nothing for granted.

"Time is a funny thing. Everything can change in an instant, or nothing can change for decades. You never know what life will yield. It’s important to take every moment and live in a way that moves you, moves others. Make your time here purposeful and authentic."

WASHINGTON, DC - ALS Ice Bucket Challenge co-founder Pat Quinn at the Washington Post's Ingenuity 2015 millennial entrepreneurship summit on December 2, 2015 (Photo by Kate Warren for The Washington Post via Getty Images).
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge co-founder Pat Quinn has died at 37. (Photo by Kate Warren for The Washington Post via Getty Images).

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