MDA Ban Against Volunteers With Muscular Dystrophy Is OK, Judge
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 10, 2003
WICHITA, KANSAS--The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act when it refused to allow two women with forms of muscular dystrophy to volunteer at an upcoming summer camp, a Wichita judge ruled Monday.
The decision means that Gina Bauer and Suzanne Stolz, both teachers who use wheelchairs, will not be attending Camp Chihowa near Topeka next month, as they have for the past several years.
U.S. Senior District Judge Wesley Brown ruled that MDA's requirement that volunteer counselors be able to "assist in lifting campers -- on a regular basis and in the rare event of an emergency -- is an essential function of the position."
"In sum, the court concludes that MDAs requirements for its volunteer counselors are based on legitimate and neutral criteria that are necessary for the safe operation of its summer camps."
A lawyer for MDA, which claims to be dedicated to "conquering neuromuscular diseases", had said all camp counselors must be able to lift and carry campers, in emergency situations, including "the challenges posed by national security concerns."
David Calvert, the attorney representing Bauer and Stolz, said his clients have not decided whether or not to appeal the judge's ruling.
"I'm certain that they're disappointed," Calvert told the Wichita Eagle. "They think they give a lot by way of being role models to the younger campers there. They like to give back what they've gotten over the years."