Mom says Sugar Land gym discriminated against special needs son

Thursday, July 16, 2015

SUGAR LAND, TX (KTRK) -- A Fort Bend mother says a Sugar Land gym is discriminating against her special needs son.

Reece Perry is just 3 1/2 years old. He was born with Spina Bifida and has a number of gastro-intestinal issues. He's had six surgeries in his young life and two more are scheduled for next year. He cannot eat as most children do and requires around the clock medical attention. A nurse must feed him through a feeding tube every few hours.

"Shes not a nanny or a caregiver. Shes a licensed nurse, on duty. Per doctors orders," said Reece's mother Tammy Perry.

Recently when she was considering signing up to become a member at the Sugar Land Life Time Fitness though, she says, she was met with resistance. She wanted to be able to drop Reece at the facility's day care, along with his nurse, while she worked out. She insists, however that Life Time wanted charge her a $50 membership fee for the nurse.

"It feels like discrimination. It feels like I'm fighting a battle for him. He should be able to go and have fun with his friends and still get the medical necessities he needs in life," said Perry.

She says Life Time told her the only other options would be to leave Reece at home or have the nurse remain only in the caf at the facility.

Life Time General Manager Nick Calovich tells Eyewitness News things happened a little differently, but would not go into detail.

A spokesperson for Life Time says the company has long had a policy which allows members to add a "Personal Care Attendant" at no additional charge. Life Time public relations specialist Amy Henderson responded to our inquiry stating: "This particular situation was a misunderstanding of providing care to a member versus using the club for personal use. We are making steps to swiftly clarify this policy with the family and would welcome their membership."

Tammy Perry says she has since joined the YMCA which accepted her son and his nurse, without issue.