PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - As a mother of a two-year-old with cerebral palsy, Veronica Rojas knows how to handle stressful situations.
"It's hard,” she explained. “Our life revolves around Vivianna."
She claims she met a new challenge on Thursday afternoon, when she brought her daughter to the “Just Between Friends of the Treasure Coast” consignment pre-sale at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center. Rojas said for the first time since having a special-needs child, she believes she faced discrimination.
"Vivianna's nurse was right behind me, pushing her in the wheelchair, and they said she couldn't go in because there was no strollers allowed,” recalled Rojas. “That's when I said it's not a stroller, it's a wheelchair. And they said, we're sorry, she can't go in."
Rojas began putting her 30-pound daughter in a wrap sling to carry her, which she says is difficult to do, because of her daughter’s condition.
"By the time I got inside, wearing Vivianna, there were three strollers in there that we saw,” she said. “One of them was a double stroller. And my heart just sank, because I thought, that's not fair."
Alexis Goldberg, Just Between Friends of the Treasure Coast event coordinator, said they were not discriminating against Rojas' wheelchair, they were following company policy.
"It wasn't that we were not letting a disabled child in because they were in a wheelchair,” said Goldberg. “We weren't letting a child in, because our policy at that time was no children."
"I got the whole no strollers, no kids thing, but when I got in there and we saw at least three strollers, wait a minute, that's not fair," said Rojas.
Tina Withers, the nurse who accompanied Rojas to the event, backed Rojas' claims. “While (Rojas) was talking to the people outside the event and they were prohibiting her from going inside, I saw them let in two people with strollers,” said Withers.
Rojas said she posted about the incident on the company's Facebook wall, but the post was removed.
Goldberg said the online backlash has been intense, and if potential customers boycott the event like they have been threatening to do, it would hurt other parents who sell their items in the business.
"We did go up on our Facebook page and put an apology for the miscommunication, according to our policy," said Goldberg.
In the meantime, Rojas said, if she has to choose between a sale and her daughter's comfort-- there's no contest.
"Where we go, she goes. We've always said that."
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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