Teen with disability claims discrimination from Fresno ice rink

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Megan McKeon, 16, says was at her best friend's birthday party this weekend and forced to leave an ice rink because she was in a wheelchair. (KFSN)

A disabled teen says she was iced out of a birthday party this weekend and forced to leave an ice rink because she was in a wheelchair.

Megan McKeon is a very driven young woman. She's 16 with two goals: get through high school and get equal access to an ice rink.

"Being 16 and only having one leg and in a chair, it's not easy to fit in," she said.

Fitting in is all she was trying to do on Saturday during her best friend's Sweet 16 party at the Gateway Ice Center in Fresno.

But the good times only lasted about 10 minutes when, Megan says, she was on the ice in her wheelchair when an employee asked her to leave the rink.

"He said, 'I'm sorry, I'm trying to follow my rules, I'm just trying to keep my job and everything,'" she recounted.

Megan's mom Susan stepped in and asked to speak with the general manager.

"They said it's a liability," Susan said.

Susan says she brought up ADA laws and even showed the GM pictures from last year when Megan says she was invited to the very same rink, to skate with the Fresno Monsters.

Still, she says, the general manager refused and she sat out the rest of the party in the lobby.

"I didn't feel human at that point, I felt downgraded," Megan said. "I felt like I wasn't a person."

"There's no reason why that wheelchair can't be on ice."

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Megan should be able to go on the ice.

The law says, ice arenas, regardless of the size are public accommodations that cannot deny a person access to goods and services -- however safety rules and criteria may be imposed.

At Gateway, we didn't find any rules or policies about wheelchairs posted.

We did, however, talk with the general manager, he said he was aware of the situation but couldn't comment until he is cleared to do so by his attorneys.

Susan says, the next step, is a lawsuit.

"Our goal isn't to get rich out of this," she said. "Our goal is to get equal access for all kids so that kids can feel good about themselves."

Megan says it isn't easy right now.

"I just wanted to have fun," she said. "It was my best friend's 16th birthday party."

She says she missed out but she's determined to keep it from happening again.
Related Topics:
newsamericans with disabilities actdiscriminationfresnoFresno
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