Archive for Saturday, November 5, 2005

Court: Camp does not have to keep disabled volunteers

November 5, 2005


— Two women who suffer from muscular dystrophy will no longer be able to volunteer at the summer camp for disabled children that they attended when they were young.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. doesn't have to allow volunteers with the disability to work at its Wichita, Kan., camp.

The association's regulations, which require volunteers to be physically able to "lift and care for a camper," do not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, the court ruled.

Gina Bauer and Suzanne Stolz sued the association after they were told they couldn't volunteer because they couldn't fulfill the requirements.

The camp, put on by the association, gives children with neuromuscular diseases an opportunity to do things they might not otherwise get to do, such as horseback riding and swimming, the ruling states. These and other activities, such as transferring campers to and from wheelchairs, beds and toilets, require a volunteer to be able to regularly and manually lift the camper.

Bauer and Stolz both attended the Wichita MDA Camp Chihowa as campers from 1981 to 1994. They returned as volunteers each summer until 2003, when new management took over and said it violated policy, according to court documents.

The association had argued that Bauer and Stolz, who both use a power wheelchair at least some of the time, were limited in what they could do as volunteers at the camp and thus spent a great deal of time doing other things, according to the ruling.

Bauer, for example, would go swimming while the campers were taking a break - an activity that required help from two to three people to get her in and out of the pool and one to hold her while she swam.

Messages left at numbers listed for Bauer and Stolz were not immediately returned.

The court ruled that the association's policies do not amount to unlawful discrimination because the "criteria is necessary to fulfill the primary purpose of the camp and to ensure its safe operation," the ruling states.

A message left at with the Tucson, Ariz.-based Muscular Dystrophy Association was not immediately returned after hours Friday.


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