NYT compares Ice Bucket Challenge to 'frivolous' meme

BEVERLY, Mass. — Pete Frates family's is speaking out after a New York Times article compared the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to a frivolous meme.

“When I think of the word frivolous - it means to me "meaningless” or "silly"…so you're saying to us - is our cause meaningless and silly? Is the largest viral sensation in the history of mankind meaningless and silly? It raised millions of dollars,” said John Frates, father of Pete.

A New York Times article published on April 28 compares the Ice Bucket Challenge to a trending Facebook re-post where users posts 10 concerts they've been to, but one of them is a lie. The post asks their Facebook friends to guess which one is a lie.

"The meme is the kind of frivolous distraction that makes up social media interactions, similar to other viral memes, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge,” said the article.

In the Ice Bucket Challenge, which gained popularity in summer 2014, Pete Frates challenged others to pour a bucket of ice over their heads to help raise money and awareness for ALS.

“Everyone in the world knows what ALS is...because of the Ice Bucket Challenge,” said John Frates.

Many ALS patients are posting ALS facts everyday during May, ALS Awareness Month. This one being posted on this day. Just think about this..........

Posted by Nancy Frates on Thursday, May 4, 2017

In response to the article, Pete Frates and Pat Quinn, co-founders of the Ice Bucket Challenge, wrote a letter to the editor. In it, they cited the global awareness and $115 million raised thanks to the virality.

Nancy Frates, Pete’s mother, gives the newspaper credit for publishing their response.

“They didn't put it in a pile, they put the letter out there and gave recognition to young men who are struggling with this disease,” she said.

Boston 25 News called and emailed The New York Times for comment. A spokesperson referred to us to a tweet. Boston 25 Reporter Stephanie Coueignoux showed the tweet to Nancy Frates, who hadn’t seen it before. After reading the tweet, Nancy Frates said, “I think they have to go back and read the actual words in their article. They actually had a whole paragraph that built up- the climax of the paragraph was that the Ice Bucket Challenge was frivolous.”

The Frates family said there is a silver lining to this article – more publicity. They hope through this ordeal, more people will educate themselves about ALS and get a little bit closer to a cure.