Brains behind Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon has links to Newry

September 1, 2014

A co-founder of the ‘ice bucket challenge’ craze that is currently sweeping the globe is the son of a Newry man, it has emerged.

Pat Quinn, an Irish American now living in Yonkers, came up with the idea along with his friend, Peter Frates.

After he was diagnosed last year with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), known here as Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Mr Quinn struck up a friendship with Mr Frates from Boston, who is also an ALS patient.

The pair decided to work together to raise funds for and awareness of the condition and hit on the idea of the ice bucket challenge.  So far it has raised millions of pounds across the globe, with celebrities including David Beckham, Britney Spears and Rory McIlroy, as well as former US President George W Bush, getting involved.

The task involves participants having buckets of ice cold water poured over them before nominating someone else to take on the challenge and do likewise.  Once completed, they make a donation to the MND charity, while some are using the opportunity to fundraise for alternative charities, such as Macmillan and Cancer Research.

Daily news feeds on social media are filled with people all doing their bit by completing the challenge and announcing their subsequent nominations, with few escaping from the dousing in cold water.

Commenting on the popularity of the challenge, Pat Quinn, who, as a teenager, moved from Newry to New York with his family, described it as “amazing, one of the craziest things ever”.

“I could never imagine the ice bucket would bring ALS to the tip of the tongue of everyone.  But it’s here and I couldn’t be happier,” he said.