Pat Quinn, who raised $ 220 million to help fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) by sponsoring the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, died on Sunday, seven years after learning he had the disease. He was 37 years old.
His death at St. John’s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers, NY was confirmed by the ALS Association and in a post on his official Facebook page.
Mr Quinn failed to meet the challenge of people throwing buckets of ice water on their heads while promising to donate money to help fight ALS. However, he and his friend Pete Frates, who also had ALS, are credited for stepping up and helping make it a sensation in the summer and fall of 2014, spending tens of millions of dollars on research and, perhaps almost as important, one brings wider awareness of the disease.
“Pat forever changed the course of the fight against ALS,” said Calaneet Balas, president and executive director of the ALS Association, in a statement on Sunday. “He has inspired millions to get involved and care for people living with ALS.”
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that attacks the nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement, resulting in complete paralysis. According to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, people with the disease typically live three to five years from the time of diagnosis.
Shortly after learning that he had ALS in 2013, Mr. Quinn started Quinn for the Win, a Facebook group, to raise awareness about the disease and raise money to fight for a cure. Mr. Frates created his own page, Team Frate Train, with the same goal.
In July 2014, Mr. Quinn and Mr. Frates saw another ALS patient, Anthony Senerchia, do the Ice Bucket Challenge online. They created their own ice bucket videos and shared the challenge with their followers. (Mr. Frates died last year at the age of 34.)
From there, the campaign spread wildly, and Lady Gaga, Oprah Winfrey, LeBron James and numerous other celebrities participated and donated to the cause. The challenge raised $ 115 million for the ALS Association and $ 220 million worldwide for ALS research in just six weeks, the ALS Association said.
Mr. Quinn’s efforts “dramatically accelerated efforts to end ALS, resulting in new research discoveries, expanded care for people with ALS, and greater government investment in ALS research,” said Ms. Balas.
In a 2015 interview for Conversations at Google in Manhattan, Mr. Quinn was asked if he had a favorite video from the Ice Bucket Challenge. He noted that Mr. James, Bill Gates, and Leonardo DiCaprio had each made one but declined to pick one out.
“It’s not worth being picky about,” he said, “because any challenge, no matter how big or small, did what we originally set out to do, which created awareness and the incoming money was just completely unexpected.”
Patrick Ryan Quinn was born on February 10, 1983 in Yonkers to Rosemary Quinn and Patrick Quinn Sr. He attended Iona College in New Rochelle, NY, where he was on the rugby team.
According to the ALS Association, he was diagnosed with ALS in March 2013, one month after his 30th birthday.
In addition to his parents, he is survived by his brothers Dan and Scott Quinn, according to the association. His marriage to Jennifer Flynn ended in divorce.
After the challenge, Mr. Quinn continued to talk about the struggle for a cure and held the challenge every August in his hometown as part of an event called “Every August to the Cure.”
Mr. Quinn lost his voice in 2017. The next year, a company called Project Revoice used the interviews and speeches he had given to promote the Ice Bucket Challenge to create a “voice bank” of his recorded speech. The innovation enabled him to communicate with a digital approximation of his own voice using existing gaze technology.
Speaking to an audience in Boston last year on the fifth anniversary of the challenge, Mr. Quinn said the campaign was “linked to a cute left hook on the jaw of ALS and shook the disease, but this fight is by no means over.”