Ice Bucket Challenge starter to visit Australia

4 Dec 2015
Nancy Frates

Queenslanders will have the opportunity to meet the woman behind last year’s internet sensation, the Ice Bucket Challenge, when she visits The University of Queensland this week.

Nancy Frates is the mother of Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Lou Gehrig's disease) in 2012 after a baseball injury that would not heal baffled doctors.

Ms Frates will give a public lecture, ‘ALS, before and after ice: How one family can make a difference’, at UQ’s St Lucia campus on Saturday 24 October as part of the one day MND Symposium 2015.

She will talk about her experiences leading up to the ALS Ice Bucket movement that went viral globally and the extraordinary outcomes that resulted.

MND researcher Dr Shyuan Ngo of UQ’s School of Biomedical Sciences and The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) said the visit would help to promote the poorly understood illness.

“Motor neuron disease is extremely complex, and so far there is only a very basic understanding of what causes it, and possible methods to treat it,” Dr Ngo said.

“The Ice Bucket Challenge helped to raise more than $200 million globally for MND research.

“Those funds have kick-started deeper investigations into the disease, as well as promoting the illness and highlighting the importance of research.

“We’re extremely excited that Nancy will be joining us at The University of Queensland and at the chance to hear her personal insights into her son’s battle against the illness, and the amazing legacy they created.”

As part of this initiative, and working in collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific, the Symposium will feature a unique art piece by the artist Luke Maninov (the Cerulean Odyssey), to be auctioned off to support MND research. This art-piece illustrates hope and victory over the devastating effects of MND and can be viewed at Bidding on the Cerulean Odyssey art piece is now open on eBay.

Dr Ngo is the recipient of the Scott Sullivan Fellowship, named in honour of the late Scott Sullivan who created the MND and Me Foundation before losing his battle against MND in 2014.

Media: QBI Bernadette Condren, +61 7 334 66353,; SBMS Lynda Flower, +61 7 336 51536,; Dr Shyuan Ngo, +61 7 336 54904,