Julie Frates, ALS patient advocate, to be Fisher College commencement speaker

Originally Published in The Boston Globe by Brianne Kovatch



Julie Frates, the widow of Pete Frates, who helped popularize the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds for ALS research, will be this year’s commencement speaker for Fisher College in the Back Bay, the school announced Monday.

For years, Julie Frates has worked “tirelessly” as an advocate for those with ALS, Fisher College said in a statement. Pete Frates died from the degenerative disease in 2019, at age 34.

“Julie Frates has carried her husband’s mission forward with compassion and determination,” Fisher College President Steve Rich said in a statement. “She is a shining example of grace under pressure. We are honored to have her join us as our Distinguished Commencement Speaker as her story means so much to our community.”

Julie Frates still continues to be a “driving force” behind the Ice Bucket Challenge, which has raised more than $220 million worldwide to fund a cure for ALS, the college wrote.

She is also heavily involved with the Pete Frates Family Foundation, a nonprofit that works to assist patients with advanced ALS and their families with the “overwhelming” cost of home healthcare, the college said.

“I am very honored for the privilege of serving as Fisher College’s commencement speaker for 2022,” Frates said in a statement. “My message to the graduating class of 2022 will focus on putting others before self and also how these young people can make a huge impact on the world, as Pete and others have done.”

The message hits home for the Fisher College community, as former college President Thomas M. McGovern died from the disease last year, the statement said.

The college will award Frates with an honorary doctorate in humane letters for her public service during the ceremony on May 14 at 11 a.m. at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.