Daniel Betzwiser, a bright and outgoing 14-year old teenager from Danville, Illinois, enjoyed the game of soccer since he was 9 years old. Everything was going great in life, until his world was turned upside down by a horrendous medical issue.
Sarah Estrada, the mother of Daniel, stated a few weeks ago that he experienced a random episode of blankness. “We were at home and all of a sudden he just went blank.” said Estrada. At first it seemed not to be such a big issue, but then it happened again a few days later. “The school called, stating that Daniel was ill and needed to be picked up.” said Estrada. “We decided it was best to go to the emergency room, where a doctor observed a medical episode, ultimately diagnosing him with absent seizures.” According to Estrada, the ER doctor who diagnosed Daniel, stated he was cleared to continue playing soccer without restriction. A few days later a soccer game was scheduled, which included Daniel on the field.
“During the game, Daniel’s coach stated that Daniel began acting weird on the field, even becoming aggressive at moments. Daniel blanked out again, resulting in another player running into him.” said Estrada. “Daniel ended up kicking in his episode, which resulted in a player becoming injured.”
After the incident, Estrada and Daniel’s coach ran over to him, where they witnessed his eyes vibrating. He was quickly taken off the field, where Estrada made the ultimate decision to pull Daniel from the rest of the games, until his situation was better managed. Later that day, a mass text message was sent out to all the soccer parents on the team, which included Estrada. According to the text, a meeting was scheduled for the parents, to discuss the incident that occurred with Daniel, which was highly embarrassing in the eyes of Estrada and Daniel.
After the parent meeting took place, contact was made between Estrada and DASA, the Danville Area Soccer Association, who informed Estrada that a board meeting was held without her, which determined that Daniel was a ‘malicious, unmanaged disabled child’, according to a representative of the board. Their decision resulted in Daniel being kicked out of the league, due to his disability.
“Daniel doesn’t recall the incident at all. I was further told that Daniel cannot come to the sports complex, participate on the sidelines, or even watch his sister practice because of the incident that occurred.” said Estrada. “Then I was told that he can’t even participate in the homecoming parade and simply stand on the float.” she added.
According to the American Disability Act, Title 3, 28 CFR Part 36, public venues cannot take such actions against those with medical issues. Estrada filed complaints with the ADA and also with the IRS, because of the association’s non-profit status. It was later found out that the board meeting that was held, that determined Daniel was banned from the team, included the father of the son who Daniel injured. A petition on change.org was started by Estrada titled, “Let Daniel sit on the sidelines at winter park“. So far the petition has reached over 100 signatures and continues to grow. Estrada now intends on seeking legal representation in this situation.
“He knows he’s unable to play, he just wants access to the sidelines and the ability to watch his sister play.” said Estrada.