South Jersey drive-in stops diabetic teen from bringing ’emergency’ food inside
A south Jersey drive-in is being criticized for refusing to let a diabetic teen bring his own “emergency” candy and sugar into a show.
Ben Weidner, 16, of West Deptford tells 6 ABC he has Type 1 diabetes and was with a group of friends when theater staff stopped him from bringing in a backpack filled with insulin, an EpiPen, a juice box and candy he can use in case his blood sugar level drops. His father, Phil, adds that Ben has celiac and several food allergies. Ben feels “humiliated” at the way he was treated in front of his friends.
Owner Dr. John Deleonardis, who bills his theater as “New Jersey’s only drive-in theater” on its website, says the drive-in is dependent on concession stand sales and he has food available that Ben could purchase. The pediatrician is concerned with people takikng advantage if he starts making exceptions for outside food. He does not plan to change the policy.
The website notes that concession stand sales have always played a large part in the theater’s survival. “The concession stand is where the drive-in covers operating expenses. In either your own drive-in experiences of wanting to create drive-in memories for your children or grandchildren remember one thing, “If you eat here, we’ll be here” reads a post included with the theater’s history.
Comments on the drive-in’s Facebook page are supporting both sides of the issue.
“I am a type one diabetic.THANK YOU for standing your ground!! It is simple to pay your way in and grab a quick snack at the concession stand in case of a low,” posted Melanie Korfhage. “I appreciate it when others treat me as normal, and that what i feel you did no one should feel pity for anyone but that teenage boy and you, as Im sure HE was humiliated by his parents using him and his diabetes to get their 5 ‘of fame and pity and may be causing you to lose business.”
Another comment cite Deleonardis profession. “So sad that this drive inns (sp) owner A DOCTOR kicked out a child suffering from type one diabetes for bringing in his necessary supplies to keep him alive (candy as a fast acting sugar). How does he even have a medical license?” posted Chrisst Vogt