Earlier today I got word of some startling news on my Facebook newsfeed. A dear friend and colleague of mine Henry Toledo (@HeroicHenry) first broke this news on his blog HeroicHenry.com. Here is his original Facebook post breaking the news:
Here is the full text (for those of you who can’t view the image):
Charlotte Keith posted a very unfortunate incident that happened with her daughter Aleasha, yesterday in a Facebook group called Coldwater MI Exchange.
The story went viral locally, reaching about 1,100+ shares and 250+ likes when I first read it. Charlotte wanted the story to hit the news, but one of the admins in the Facebook group decided to delete the original post, deleting everything.
This upset many people, and people were starting to get angered in the Facebook group. I luckily happened to take a screen shot of the original post with the feedback and wrote about it on my small blog.
Please help share this article and help it reach the Newschannel 3, CBS News, WWMT, West Michigan, MLive.com, WOOD TV8 and any other news outlet.
A business owner should never treat children like this, mentally challenged or not.
- Henry Toledo, HeroicHenry.com
Once I checked the original post and saw it had been deleted from the Coldwater MI Exchange Facebook group, I checked out Henry’s article - “Bowling Alley Owner Calls Mentally Challenged Child “Disgusting and Nasty” to see the post and read what happened. His photo is (to my knowledge) the only known copy of this post. He shows us a picture of the deleted Facebook post from Charlotte Keith, the mother of a little girl who is mentally challenged named Aleasha. Aleasha was ridiculed and belittled by the owner of a Coldwater, MI bowling alley for getting sick before reaching the bathroom. Here is that image from Henry’s blog with fair warning that this description is hard to read and very heart wrenching.
Here is the full text (for those who may not be able to view the image):
Today has been one of the worst days I have ever had as a parent. My daughter Aleasha was verbally attacked by the owner of Coldwater Rec Bowling alley. She was on a field trip with her class from the Waldron Center. They were bowling when Aleasha started feeling sick, she ran for the bathroom and didn’t make it. The owner starts yelling at her, telling her how disgusting and nasty she is and that she needs to leave. The teacher jumps to her rescue and tells him to stop, but it is to late she is ill again and now crying and signing how sorry she is (for those of you that don’t know Aleasha is mentally challenged and can’t speak). As a parents I am outraged and heart broken and pissed. IF you are a parent that agrees please re-post and watch the news because Aleashas story will be heard I promise you that.
- Charlotte Keith
Henry’s post stopped there, but I wanted to provide some more information on the situation. I looked into the bowling alley and it’s owner, reached out to local people, and did a bit of research. There is no excuse for a crime like this, and having an older sister that is mentally challenged I understand first hand the neglect, lack of respect, and attitude others have for those who are mentally challenged. I wanted to make my readers and my readers readers aware of these types crime and try to give my hand in the effort to stop this heinous abuse from happening.
I wanted to start by going directly to the source of the post to get true insight on the matter, so I messaged Charlotte Keith personally on Facebook asking to talk with her specifically for this article. At this moment, I would like to take the time to say something I hold very true to my heart that I wrote in my message to Mrs. Keith. I am extremely thankful for people like her and her family, it’s people like them, those who will go public and take a stance in light of such a horrific event that make a difference. Mrs. Keith recently responded saying she is supportive of the article and would provide more details for me later.
Starting my research on the bowling alley, I first went to the very reliable folks at Find The Company, I found it’s known to local residents as Coldwater Recreation Bowling but registered with the state as Coldwater Recreation Inc. It’s address is 559 East Chicago Road, Coldwater, MI 4036 and has been in the heart of Coldwater’s business district since 1992. They provide a fax number (517) 279-8517 and link to their website coldwaterrec.com, however it’s dead with a “Failed to load page content” error. The provided “employee list” for Coldwater Recreation Inc on Find The Company shows Scott Rzepka as President and Tom Rzepka as Vice-President.
[Source: Find The Company - Coldwater Recreation Inc in Coldwater, Michigan]
To double check this information I went to the Branch Area Chamber of Commerce member directory and searched “Coldwater Recreation” under the keyword search. This is a directory of all locally owned businesses in the Branch County, Michigan area (which Coldwater is the largest city in) along with detailed contact information for these businesses and their owners. My search returned:
Coldwater Recreation Bowling
559 E. Chicago St.
Coldwater, MI 49036
With this information, I attempted to reach out to the legal business owner of Coldwater Recreation Inc – Scott Rzepka. Although not explicitly stated as the culprit in Mrs. Keith’s post, she did refer to the man who did this as the owner of Coldwater Recreation on two separate occasions – first at the beginning of the post, “…Aleasha was verbally attacked by the owner of Coldwater Rec bowling alley…” and second when describing the horrific event, “…The owner starts yelling at her, telling her how disgusting and nasty she is and that she needs to leave…” I emailed Mr. Rzepka at the provide email asking him if he would at least give a statement on the matter and possibly answer some questions. I have yet to receive a response and will update this article if any changes occur on this matter.
This is currently an unsettled case that has yet to be heard by the public and almost was lost when the admin of the Coldwater MI Exchange Facebook group deleted the original post. With help from any person who wants to make a difference in this situation, I want this story to be heard by the general public. I want Fox, CNN, Huff Post, The New York Times, and all other major new outlets to see this and help push awareness for the mentally challenged. So often mentally challenged people are over looked and these cases are forever lost to yesterday, but it’s people like Aleasha, Mrs. Keith, and the entire Keith family that can help shape a different – positive – outcome for the next child. Only if your daily life is impacted by a mentally challenged individual can you truly understand me when I express the true traumatization that person can experience from even the smallest of things. In the same light, none of us can truly understand the trauma Aleasha had during this, and would only begin to if we could experience, just for a moment, exactly what it is like to be in her shoes.
Let’s help make sure Aleasha’s story isn’t lost to yesterday, and let’s help fight the overwhelming ignorance this county has towards the mentally challenged. Unfortunately, Aleasha isn’t the first this has happened to and probably won’t be the last. However, what Aleasha’s story can do is spark a fire in the public eye and help raise the overall level of awareness for these situation. If we don’t let this get pushed aside we are helping the next mentally challenged child not become a victim of ignorance.
Believe me when I tell you, ignorance is far from bliss.
[Last edited 11:50 pm Oct 11, 2013]