Disabled 8-Year Old Turned Away From Rides At Dyer County Fair

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(Photo: Courtesy of Katie Brake)

(Dyer County, TN) The 2013 Dyer County Fair is in the books. The echoes of laughter are gone and all that's left is the clean up.

Unfortunately, there are no good memories for 8-year-old Alissa Warren, a disabled girl from West Tennessee.

Monday, Dianne Warren explained how Caudal regression syndrome has impacted her daughter since birth.

"She does not have her lower three backbones and her legs are in a crossed position. We call it 'crisscrossed applesauce.' And her feet are clubbed."

Dianne Warren says Alissa's disability did not stop the youngster from wanting to ride one of the merry-go-round type rides over the weekend at the Dyer County Fair in Dyersburg, TN.

"Alissa saw the lights. She was so excited, 'Mommy, I want to ride this ride.'"

She says a worker, with Myers International Midways, told the Warrens the 8-year-old could not get on the rides because of her disability.

Dianne said the worker made the situation even worse by what he said next.

"He proceeded, in front of my daughter, to ask us why she couldn't stand."

The chairman of the Dyer County Fair said one day a week is set aside as Special Needs Day at the Fair: that's when rides are slowed down and more workers are staffed to assist disabled children and adults.

Gloria Myers, with Myers International Midways, e-mailed the Warren's an apology for what happened.

The e-mail stated in part:

"I am very sorry to hear that you had an issue with rides at our fair. We certainly do not intend to single out anyone because of their abilities. However the rides are mechanical machines and always our utmost concern is the safety of our patrons."

The Warrens were refunded the money they paid to get into the Fair and were told Alissa could spend all the time she wanted at the petting zoo.

Dianne says the apology isn't good enough.

"All that my daughter wanted to do is ride a simple kiddy ride, that she is perfectly more than capable of. And she was not allowed this opportunity."

The Dyer County Fair contracts vendors like Myers International to operate rides during the Fair and it is their decision, based on safety and liability issues,  to decide who can ride their rides.

The chairman of the Dyer County Fair said the goal of the Fair is to provide a safe, fun-filled environment for all fair-goers.

Meantime, Diane Warren said there are no plans at this time to pursue any legal action against Myers International Midways.