Boy with rare condition mistreated at Gilroy Gardens Water Oasis, family says

Wyatt, via Facebook page

The mother of a Gilroy boy with a rare, non contagious disease that creates patches on his skin, took to Facebook to complain that the boy was accosted by security at Gilroy Gardens theme park when he was using the water park there Sunday.
The boy, Wyatt Catalano has Diffuse Cutaneous Mastocytosis, a rare condition that creates an abundance of mast cells on the skin, making it blister easily. His family has launched a program called Wyatt’s Warriors to help bring awareness of the disease. They were the grand marshall’s in Gilroy’s 2016 Christmas Parade and they are well known around town.
However, even though a lifeguard at the GIlroy Gardens Water Oasis knew who he was, a security officer approached Wyatt’s family Sunday and asked them to report to EMTs. People had apparently complained about the 2-year-old with the skin condition.
Gilroy Gardens General Manager Barb Granter said Tuesday she has been in contact with Shannon and the two were planning to meet Friday to “turn this into something positive to help raise awareness of Mastocytosis.” She said she would release what that was then and had no other comments.
Tuesday afternoon, Shannon Catalano, Wyatt’s mom, was more optimistic. 
“I’m looking forward to meeting Friday. I do believe something very positive can come out of this.”
But her post drew hundreds of shares from people who were saddened.
“My husband was told he needed to speak with the EMTs, was asked to bring Wyatt with him, out of the pool, and was told it was regarding his condition,” wrote  Catalano.
“There we were. Middle of a packed pool area. So many people. I saw my husband walking toward the EMTs and raced over as fast as I could. I looked around and all eyes were on us. Lots of eyes.
“The employee told us how there had been several complaints and concerns about Wyatt. I listened. I felt so sad. As I looked at the eyes looking at us I wondered which ones were concerned. Then I felt mad. Why didn’t any of those concerned people simply ask?
“More importantly, why didn’t an employee come up to my husband discreetly, express their concerns politely, and ask with tact?”
Catalano’s Facebook post continued:
“I find it completely ridiculous that an employee had the time to call and wait for an EMT response, rather than approach us and ask us politely. I deal with people who ask us about Wyatt on a regular basis and I’m so appreciative when someone asks, particularly when they ask nicely. I’m not appreciative of the adults who pick up and move their entire family away from ours after seeing our son, like a family did today. I’m not appreciative that EMTs responded, alongside an employee, and made a huge scene. It felt overwhelming. I expressed how frustrating it was to have this experience the way it unfolded, how disappointed I was that someone didn’t just discreetly and politely ask, and how glad I was that my sweet Wyatt thankfully did not understand what was going on. In my head I kept feeling thankful that he was 2.”
Catalano said she will return to Gilroy Gardens and has been a regular there for years. She gave some advice to the park.
“Share what happened today at your Water Oasis. Train up those who you employ to recognize differences among people and better ways to handle situations where there might be fear, based on someone’s differences and appearance. This boy Wyatt, my son, lives here and grows here. Help raise awareness about mastocytosis and Wyatt. We will be back to Gilroy Gardens and we don’t want to experience anything like this again either.”
Facebook comments ranged from shocked and sad, to wary:
“I’m so sad reading this post,” wrote Michelle Bigaut. “I have never met you, but I have seen you and your son before at the library, Gilroy Gardens, etc. after a while I figured that he must have a condition, and that you wouldn’t willing “expose” other children to an “illness.” Especially since if I’ve seen you and him at multiple events, with Wyatt looking no different.
I’m disappointed to hear how GG handled this situation…not ok.”
“As parents, we have been ingrained with panic over rashes and certain skin conditions by our doctors,” wrote Whitney Weber Jordan. “Many times we are even brought into the doctor’s office through a different door. So, imagine how uninformed parents, myself included, view your little guy when they see what appears to be a rash.
I’m thankful you shared this very difficult encounter as many of us have learned of Mastocytosis. I was not aware of it and I have three grown kids who had what I thought was every skin condition known to man. All of this to say, maybe it would be helpful to have a card of some sort that has information on Mastocytosis that you could hand out at a place like a pool where you think there might possibly be concerned parents (and staff).
Not only would this inform them, it would set their mind at ease. Just think of how many parents now know about this just from you sharing your experience. I think this idea could change a painful situation to one of an educated nature. I brought this up because one time a grandfather gave me a card on autism and it took away my element of fear and changed it to one of complete understanding. (((Hugs)))”

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