What's Bugging You: Parking At MSU For Disabled Fans

By: Caroline Vandergriff Email
By: Caroline Vandergriff Email

What's bugging you, Mid-Michigan? The handicapped parking system at Michigan State University's Breslin Student Events Center is what's bugging one Mid-Michigan mom, who says the extra hurdles to get to the game will make it extremely difficult for her son to enjoy an outing he looks forward to all year.

Mary Osmar's son Patrick was perfectly normal and healthy until he was about five years old. Then, he was diagnosed with metachromatic leukodystrophy, a rare genetic disorder that affects the nerves, muscles, and other organs.

"It was a really, really bad time," said Osmar. "It's as bad as it can get because you're basically told your child is dying. He is almost completely paralyzed. He can't feed himself, move around, dress himself - any of those things. But that is our normal."

And the Osmars' normal means making sure 26-year-old Patrick is involved in as many activities as possible, including going to the Breslin Center with his dad once a year to cheer on Michigan State's men's basketball team. It's been an annual tradition for the family for the past 12 years or so. Patrick's three older siblings graduated from Michigan State, and everyone in their family is a big Spartan fan.

"It's just a nice activity," Osmar explained. "And it's always been relatively easy because you can pull into the parking lot there, unload him once, and go into the building and be done with that."

But when Patrick and his dad tried to go a game a few weeks ago, they were told that was no longer an option.

News 10 reached out to the university multiple times, but was told no one was available to talk about this issue. The university did say the parking system it uses for basketball games at the Breslin Center is the same one it uses for football games at Spartan Stadium. The policy is in compliance with the American Disabilities Act."

"It's legal but it isn't necessarily right," Osmar said.

Fans with disabilities now have to park nearly a mile away from the Breslin Center in Lot 48, and then take a shuttle to the arena. That means an extra wait, and the hassle of unloading and loading Patrick from the car to the bus.

"Which is all doable, it's just another level of activity you have to go through in order to do this," said Osmar. "And when you put up those little barriers, eventually they add up until someone throws up their hands and says, 'I just can't do this anymore.'"

"When you're disabled, your world can close in - it can become smaller, and every little thing that happens like this just makes it a little bit smaller."

All Osmar says she's trying to do is fight to keep her son's world as big as it can possibly be.

She says the family will continue to try to bring Patrick to the games, but it's going to take that much more effort and planning. Ultimately, Osmar hopes the university will reevaluate its handicapped parking policy.


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