On March 2, 2022, a video surfaced on social media showing two student-athletes from Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania pushing a woman’s wheelchair down a flight of stairs outside a restaurant.
The woman in the wheelchair was later identified as Sydney Benes, who was out with friends celebrating her birthday when the incident occurred. The two individuals who were pushing her wheelchair were identified as Carson Briere and his friend, who has since been suspended from the university.
The incident sparked outrage on social media, with many people expressing their disgust and anger towards the actions of the two student-athletes. Sydney Benes, who has cerebral palsy, spoke out about the incident in an exclusive interview with YourErie.com, saying that she felt violated and that her disability was being used as a joke.
Benes also stated that this incident is not an isolated one and that people with disabilities often face discrimination and disrespect. She added that she hopes this incident raises awareness about the treatment of people with disabilities and the need for more accessibility.
The incident highlights the need for better education and awareness about disability rights and accessibility. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 to ensure that people with disabilities have equal rights and opportunities.
The ADA requires businesses and public spaces to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities, such as wheelchair ramps and accessible restrooms.
However, despite the ADA’s provisions, people with disabilities still face challenges in accessing public spaces and services. A study conducted by the National Council on Disability found that people with disabilities are more likely to experience discrimination and barriers to accessing healthcare, education, and employment.
In response to the incident involving Sydney Benes, Gannon University released a statement condemning the actions of the two student-athletes and stating that they have been suspended from the university. The university also stated that they are committed to ensuring that all students feel safe and respected on campus.
Overall, the incident involving Sydney Benes and Carson Briere highlights the ongoing discrimination and mistreatment of people with disabilities. It is important for society to recognize the rights and needs of people with disabilities and to work towards creating a more inclusive and accessible world.