Fred Penner buys family tickets to his show
Sheldon Johnston is the father of eight-year-old autistic, twin boys. One is diagnosed severe and the other is moderate. Johnston said that they have a number of issues that they deal with on a daily basis.
When the family goes to events they need aides to help them. Previous events have given the aides complimentary tickets.
"We have been trying to obtain tickets for us, our children, and two aides to accompany us ... to make sure our children for example don't dart onto the theatre or don't in anyway interfere with other children that might be enjoying the performance," Johnston said.
The Vic Juba theatre denied complimentary tickets for the aides.
"If we (couldn't) get those tickets, we are not in a high income bracket so we wouldn't be able to attend anyways," Johnston said.
Behaviour interventionist Erin Gluckie is the family's aide. She emailed Fred Penner to see if he could help.
"He emailed back and said he would contact the theatre himself and request the two tickets be put under my name," she said.
The family thought the situation was solved until they attempted to pick up the tickets from the manager of the theatre.
"She told us that she had received Fred Penner's email but they were denying his request. They felt that since they are paying to have him come to their theatre he does not have the right to ask for free tickets," Gluckie said.
Gluckie, who was with the mother and one of the autistic children said that they were asked to leave the theatre.
After an email from Gluckie, Penner decided to buy the tickets himself. He has invited the family to meet him after the show.
Johnston said he is thrilled his children will still be able to have the Fred Penner experience.
"Fred Penner ... he is a tremendous performer, not necessarily because he is the best musician but because he has got the biggest heart," he said.
In a written statement the Vic Juba theatre stated that when accommodating people with disabilities "their guests and aides have the opportunity to purchase seating at regular prices for any event and occupy seats together."