The operator of the spinning swing ride at the St. Brigid’s School festival in Westbury claimed 7-year-old Kailee Freitag couldn’t get on a ride without an adult because of her ‘medical condition,’ her mom Lisa told the Daily News. After a 20-minute confrontation, the worker humiliated Kailee by making her take a single spin on the ride without any other children, the mom says.
ANDREW THEODORAKIS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Lisa Freitag and her 7-year-old daughter Kailee in front of the swing ride that a carnival worker wouldn’t let the girl ride alone because of her ‘medical condition.’
An outraged Queens mother says a Long Island carnival employee wrongly refused to let her blind daughter enjoy a kiddie ride in an act of discrimination.
The operator of the spinning swing ride at the St. Brigid’s School festival in Westbury, L.I., claimed the 7-year-old girl was prohibited from getting on without an adult because of her “medical condition,” mom Lisa Freitag told the Daily News.
“I don’t consider blindness to be a medical condition to preclude her from going on the ride,” she said, noting plucky little Kailee had previously enjoyed rides at amusement parks like Walt Disney World without incident.
“They were discriminating against her because she’s blind,” the Richmond Hill mom added. “It’s not like she has a bad back or is going to have a heart attack or something.”
Kailee, who walks with a cane, had been on several other rides at the festival run by Big Ben’s Midway carnival company when the unidentified employee stopped her and demanded that Freitag accompany her on the attraction, according to the mom.
The employee pointed to a sign saying children with medical conditions need to be accompanied by an adult. That led to a 20-minute confrontation between the employee and Freitag, who wouldn’t back down, while a group of other children were left dangling in their seats waiting for the disagreement to be resolved.
The episode ended when Freitag phoned 911, she said.
He wouldn’t let me go on the ride because I’m blind.
The employee pulled the other children off the ride and had Kailee, who goes to school at the New York Institute of Special Education, ride it alone for a single spin.
“They humiliated her by putting her on the ride by herself,” the furious mom recalled Sunday.
“She was really upset. She knew that all of the other kids were being taken off the ride. It was the saddest thing to watch.”
Benny Martinez of Big Ben’s Midway declined to comment, saying he wanted to speak with his lawyers Monday.
Kailee was born premature and, while being treated in the hospital, her retinas detached, rendering her blind. Freitag said she teaches her soon-to-be second-grader to stand up for herself.
“It’s really hard to push me to the point of punching somebody, but it nearly happened,” she said.
The festival is operated by Big Ben’s Midway carnival company.
The state Department of Labor oversees carnival ride safety and the feds require ride operators to accommodate people with disabilities. But it was unclear Sunday whether Freitag had the law on her side.
“He wouldn’t let me go on the ride because I’m blind,” Kailee told The News, calling the employee “not a nice man.”