Over winter break, Julie Garceau and some of her friends took their children to Ron-A-Roll in Vernon for a day of roller-skating. About 45 minutes after they got there, an employee approached Julie's friend, who has cancer, and told her she could not wear a hat at the rink.
Roller Rink to Cancer Patient: Remove Scarf or Leave
"She has lost her hair due to chemotherapy, so she wears a scarf, and my friend said, ‘Well, I'm not wearing a hat,’ and she said, ‘Well, you have to take that thing off,’" Garceau said.
The woman, who didn't want to be identified, told NBC Connecticut over the phone that she wouldn't take her scarf off because it upsets her daughter to see her mother without hair.
But the employee insisted. Ron-A-Roll argued the scarves present a safety issue and the business does not allow anyone to wear items that could fall on the floor where skaters might be traveling.
"The young woman was like, you're not the only person with cancer that I've dealt with, with this issue.’ And that just struck her. She just wants to be a mom and just wants to have her kids have fun and not have it be an issue. So it's been real upsetting for her," Garceau said.
There are no exceptions to the no-hat rule, a manager at Ron-A-Roll said. An employee offered the woman a helmet to wear so that her scarf would stay securely in place if she decided to skate. The woman refused.
"For her to stand around with a helmet on, would have brought even more attention," Garceau said.
The group got their money back and ended up leaving.
Later that night, Julie set up a Facebook group called "Boycott Ron-A-Roll" to tell her friend's story. There are already 223 members, and Julie hopes it will urge Ron-A-Roll to change its policy, or at least make exceptions.
"I guess I would have hoped somebody would have tried to make some sort of compromise," she said.