From the North Shore of Massachusetts to the Boston area, mourners on Friday paid their final respects to Pete Frates, the former Boston College baseball standout captain who dedicated his last several years to raising awareness about ALS.
At St. John's Prep in Danvers, where Frates attended school, hundreds of current students at the all-boys Catholic school linked hands along the roadside as the procession carrying Frates made its way from his hometown of Beverly to St. Ignatious of Loyola Church in Chestnut Hill.
His friends and former teammates carried his casket into the packed church, where his father urged mourners to take inspiration from Frates' life.
Frates' father, John, in his eulogy, recalled his son's big ego, eliciting laughs from the mourners, and his giving nature. He told the story of his son taking the family truck and digging out the entire neighborhood after a snowstorm, even the new family who had just moved in. He refused to accept a penny from anyone.
"The currency that Pete worked in was helping others,'' his father said.
John Frates also recalled the day his son was diagnosed.
"There's no crying in baseball, right," John Frates told a packed church. "And the words he said to us that night he was diagnosed is there's no wallowing in ALS."
He ended the service by urging people to stop grieving and continue the fight to find a cure for ALS.
"When we walk out of here, we're done with grieving. All we're doing is celebrating Pete Frates for the magnificent human he was."
“Pete would want us to celebrate him and have a good time and really think about the friendships we made,” Frates’ college roommate Ryan Runnoso said.
Frates' former teammates remembered him for his positivity and as a true hero.
”You met Pete. You wanted to be Pete. It was simple as that. He was charismatic. He walked in a room, he lit it up,“ said Chris Shaw. “You look at this outpouring of support. I’ve got six guys sleeping on my couch right now that flew in from across the country just because they knew they had to come and honor him.”
“Just to be able to know him as a friend and to be able to look up to him is an inspiration. He’s the true definition of a hero,” Justin Dunn said. “He’s left a legacy that’s gonna last way beyond his years and way beyond ours.”
“Every memory is just like a happy memory. Something positive. Something hilarious," Michael King said.
Frates, who inspired the viral Ice Bucket Challenge, died Monday at the age of 34 surrounded by his family following a yearslong battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease, commonly known as ALS. The progressive neurodegenerative disease causes paralysis, muscle weakness and ultimately respiratory failure.
Frates was diagnosed with the disease in 2012, at the age of 27. Since then, he has been a spirited advocate for ALS awareness.
"Peter was aglow with the spirit of God," Rev. Tony Penna, director of campus ministry at Boston College, told hundreds of mourners who packed the church.
The Ice Bucket Challenge, which dared participants to douse themselves with cold water, raised awareness on ALS. The challenge raised some $225 million worldwide to battle the disease, which has no known cure.
Frates is survived by his wife, Julie; daughter, Lucy; his father and his mother, Nancy; and siblings, Andrew and Jennifer.
A celebration of his life will be held Monday at St. John’s Prep.