Sweet friends, I apologize for the time it has taken me to update all of you. Since Ruby was kicked out of the Drury, there have been zillions of emotions throughout the days as well as many emails, and many, many phone conversations with Drury.
But first, we cannot thank all of you enough for having Ruby’s back in this situation. Your response was incredibly overwhelming. You love, love, love our precious girl!! My eyes well with tears at your unwavering devotion to our precious broken-bodied little Ruby.
When Ruby was discarded and left to die in the hot African sun (at a year old and weighing just six pounds) no one would have ever believed, at that moment in history, that within months she would have a fan club around the world who adore her! No one also would have guessed that that same fan club would fiercely defend her when a manager of the Drury Hotels kicked her and her little pink wheelchair out in Greenville, South Carolina!
I honestly think that Alex, the Assistant Manager, fully thought he could get away with it. We believe he thought we were just some “big, stupid family with useless kids in wheelchairs who happened to have old parents.” We also believe he didn’t think for a second that the same dumb parents would have any ‘real’ social media connections. As one of you so aptly put: He picked the wrong family to mess with!
Actually though, he chose the right family to mess with!
The thing is that we believe that our gracious God allows situations and puts us in places for specific purposes. We also know that Almighty God has given us the powerful responsibility to speak for those who can’t. Although God Himself was deeply grieved that Ruby would be kicked out of the hotel, He did allow it. When that discriminatory act was perpetrated against our daughter, we were given the incredible responsibility to attempt to ensure it never happens again to anyone with disabilities in the Drury Hotels.
More than twenty-four hours after Ruby and our family were kicked out, we finally heard from a Regional Manager of the Drury Hotels. Our guess is that corporate was hearing from Ruby’s peeps loud and clear! (Thank you friends, really, truly, thank you!)
Since that first phone call from the Regional manager, we have now spoken on the phone many times. Cory is very kind, but I have still been very troubled. I cannot sleep at night as I am uncertain that Drury Hotels upper management really understands the implications of a 7-year-old non-verbal quadriplegic being kicked out of their hotel.
We were accused by Alex of becoming aggressive and combative which frankly is hysterical. During the incident, we did nothing but pack up. Dw left the hotel immediately with Ruby and Birdie and put them in their car seats. He then stood beside the car doing jumping jacks – the stress was incredible!
I gathered Liberty, Jubilee, Johnny, Nehemiah, Isaiah, Elijah and Elizabeth up and we neatly tidied up where we had been sitting in the dining room because we will always leave a place exactly how we found it, if not better, even when we are kicked out!
There are security tapes in the dining room so it would be easily able to be verified that we did exactly as I just wrote above. The tapes also show that the room was basically empty of patrons.
So where does it sit at this point?
Cory, the Regional Manager, has apologized on behalf of Drury Hotels. He comped our two rooms for the night we spent before being kicked out. He also said he sent a couple of coupons on to our home which we have not received as we are still traveling in the south.
But in all of this we had to wonder – What is Drury’s policy and handbook say about the handling of special needs guests? After pushing hard to find out, it was declared that there is zero policy and zero training as to how to treat special needs guests like our Ruby. That in itself is difficult to grasp. The United States of America has instituted the American Disabilities Act for goodness sake!
An attorney from another state, who I do not know but had seen what had happened through the shares on Facebook (thank you again friends) wrote to me privately and said that although he could not give legal advice, he wanted us to take a look at the laws for South Carolina. That link is here. It is clear that what Drury Hotels did to Ruby was indeed illegal in the state of South Carolina.
While talking to Cory on the phone I have sobbed and sobbed. This should never have happened. This despicable act against our quadriplegic daughter is completely unconscionable.
I do have to tell you that the night we checked into Drury, I was not at check-in. We had, on a whim, decided to drive this route as my BFF of almost 25 years lives a few hours from Greenville, South Carolina. We have not seen each other in two years so she drove to meet me and was waiting at the hotel when we pulled in. After Dw checked in, she and I left for dinner together and a long evening of catching up.
When I returned to the hotel that night I learned that Dw had had a delightful conversation with the woman at the desk who was gracious and kind. She was so helpful and sweet to our kids that Dw told me later that night that he had given her one of my two books that have been published: The Memorial Box. Another manager, Melvin, also was very kind.
We have heard that other employees are deeply grieved that Alex would treat our family in such a way. This woman and Melvin saw, first hand, what our family was like.
We do not want anyone to think that the entire hotel staff was creepy to Ruby. That was not the case at all! But sadly, Alex’s actions that morning completely overshadow everything else that happened.
I mean, we are still stunned! Yesterday, it really hit me. I cried off and on all day. I just cannot imagine anyone on our planet not treating a 7-year-old quadriplegic in a little pink wheelchair with kindness. It seems to us that only an incredibly stone-cold heart could do that. Some have questioned if it was because of her race?
We want to ensure that any special needs treasure, whether young or old, is never, ever, ever treated as Ruby was. We believe God put us in this position for that reason. Who knows there may even have been others that Alex has kicked out, but having little social media exposure it was swept under the rug.
Apparently Drury Corporate doesn’t have a policy, a handbook or classes about how to value Special Needs individuals. We were told it was “up to individual hotels discretion as to how a situation like Ruby would be handled.” This friends is illegal and violates the American Disabilities Act. Since Drury Corporate discriminates against special needs folks, please feel free to leave a comment on Trip Advisor, Yelp and any other travel site that would warn others. Drury has deleted, blocked and disabled comments but even though they are big, they don’t have control over all the other sites!
Drury will not go out of business because of this, but they will certainly be put on notice that this treatment of vulnerable special needs people is not okay!
Drury Hotels is liable for the one manager who had the flagrant disdain for our little girl and chose to kick her out! As of this moment, I do not know of Alex showing any remorse for what he did and no, he has not been fired, put on leave or moved to another position. There have been no consequences for his unconscionable, illegal actions.
I will update you all in the near future as we continue to pursue this situation.
In the meantime, this is Ruby, the same day that Drury kicked Ruby out, we had the privilege of spending time at Michelle and Kevin’s home. Michelle and Kevin are International Voice of the Orphan board members, which is the ministry we founded. They love our family dearly and we love them all to pieces! Michelle had made delicious gluten free brownies which we devoured after we enjoyed the BBQ that Kevin had made on their back porch. I recorded Dw feeding Ruby her nibbles of the yummy brownie so you could see for yourself what Drury kicked her out for.
Please, if you are willing, leave a comment on Trip Advisor expressing your disapproval of what Drury Hotel’s employee did to our daughter. Apparently Drury Corporate doesn’t have a policy, a handbook or classes about how to value Special Needs individuals. We were told it was “up to individual hotels discretion.” This friends is illegal and violates the American Disabilities Act.