Pete Frates smiled as he took in the view at a beach in Gloucester, Massachusetts, just one day before his 30th birthday - hundreds of people were about to take part in the "Plunge 4 Pete," an annual dip in the Atlantic Ocean to help further his mission to raise awareness about ALS.
"It's almost like the Ice Bucket Challenge, in a way, because it's exponentially growing," said Peter's father, John Frates. "The first year we only had 125, last year 250, and now over 500 plus. It's amazing."
Frate's was diagnosed with the disease two and a half years ago. Since then, he set out to get ALS on the minds of people everywhere.
He's credited with starting the Ice Bucket Chalenge, which went viral over the summer, raisng more than $220 million for ALS research.
"It also stimulated conversation between people, and I think people realize that ALS is not that far from them," said mother Nancy Frates.
"They've been instrumental in getting everyone in the world to be talking about ALS," said Laurie Horne, who is taking the plunge in honor of her late husband, who succumbed to the disease five years ago.
Horne says when her husband was diagnosed there was no cure and no treatment, and few people had heard of the disease.
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Now, thanks to Frate's efforts, she says things are changing.
"Everyone kind of knows what ALS is now, and the funds are coming in," said Horne. "We believe there might be a treatment sometime soon, hopefully."
"The disease was named for Lou Gherig, but I do believe in my heart that the disease is going to be treated and cured because of Pete," said John Frates.