SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

May 14, 2012

NO FEAR

Beverly's Frates attacks ALS with passion, positivity

BEVERLY — Pete Frates wants people to know that, all things considered, he feels pretty good.

Eight weeks removed from being formally diagnosed with ALS, he's attacking the disease with the same contagious, positive energy that made him a leader on the baseball field at St. John's Prep and Boston College.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis — more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease — is a condition that causes nerve damage and eventually prevents the brain from communicating with the body's muscles. The Centers for Disease Control says there is no known cause, or cure.

Increasing awareness and research funding is the chief goal for Frates, who with the help of his family has launched The Pete Frates #3 Fund to help educate the world about ALS.

"This is a tough way to find out your lot in life, but I know this is what I was put here to do," said Frates, a 27-year-old from Beverly. "Lou Gehrig's farewell speech was in 1939. That's a long time ago."

ALS typically afflicts people between the ages of 55 and 75, according to the CDC. Between 20,000 and 30,000 people in the United States suffer from ALS, and the young Frates hopes stories like his will fuel the quest for a cure.

"I know there's a lack of research, funding and awareness. How do I alleviate that using the advantages I've had in life?" Frates asked. "Eight weeks ago if you asked any of friends about ALS, they'd say it's a disease and not much else. Now, they can tell you some pretty deep details."

Boston College, where Frates works as director of baseball operations, hosted an ALS Awareness Day on April 28. The response brought out a Shea Field record crowd of 2,286 fans to support Frates and the cause.

"It's the worst way to find out how much he's loved. That day, it was palatable," said John Frates, Pete's father. "He's had some great, magic moments."

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