If you ran a restaurant, would you turn away a little girl because she had sustained serious injuries? Would you call her “scary” and tell her that her face was disrupting the other customers? Because last week, someone did just that, asking three-year-old Victoria Wilcher to leave a KFC location in Mississippi due to the extreme injuries she had suffered several months ago.
In April of 2014 while she was visiting her grandfather, Victoria was mauled by three dogs. The damage was extensive: Both her upper and lower jaws were broken, as were her nose, cheekbones, and right eye socket. She lost her right eye, and she can’t move the right side of her face. She’s had a huge number of surgeries since the incident, and there are many more to come; at least she’s on the road to recovery, though. Victoria is out of the hospital, living at home, and undergoing physical and speech therapy — although the insurance company is refusing to pay for a lot of her treatment, which (obviously) is making it even tougher on her and her family.
And then this happened:
Victoria’s grandmother, Kelly Mullin, took her to a KFC in Jackson, Mississippi last week after a doctor’s appointment. Said Mullins to local CNN affiliate WAPT, “I ordered a large sweet tea and her some mashed potatoes and gravy because she was hungry. She was on a feeding tube at the time, but I figured she could just swallow [the potatoes]. They just told us, ‘We have to ask you to leave because her face is disrupting our customers.’” Mullins added that Victoria understood exactly what the restaurant employee said, and that the girl cried all the way home.
This is heartbreaking. Victoria has been through more — and at only three years old — than most people will go through during their lives. According to Mullins, “She’s got a lot of surgeries to go through and she won’t even look in the mirror anymore. When we go to a store, she doesn’t even want to get out [of the car]. She’s three years old and she’s embarrassed about what she looks like. She’s embarrassed and I hate it because she shouldn’t be.” No. No she should not. And I can hardly believe that an adult who should know better would fail to exercise basic human compassion towards a little girl who had clearly gone through so much. As Elizabeth Licata at The Gloss noted, “It should be inconceivable that any person would look at a little girl who had obviously sustained serious injuries and think it was OK to complain that her looks were disrupting their enjoyment of fried chicken.” Damn straight.
Victoria’s family posted about the incident on her Victoria’s Victories Facebook page last Thursday, and pretty much the entire Internet went up in arms against KFC in response. The good news (insofar as it is possible for there to be good news here) is that the incident seems to have been a result of the absurd insensitivity of whoever asked Victoria to leave the restaurant, rather than an official stance from KFC itself. As soon as the chain got word of what happened, they sought out Victoria’s family and posted the following on her Facebook page:
“Please accept our sincere apologies while we try to investigate this incident. If you could help provide details of the incident at email@example.com … we will look into this immediately. We have zero tolerance for any kind of disrespectful behavior by our team members. Once we have further details, we will immediately investigate this and take action, and we wish nothing but the best for Victoria in her recovery.”
Since then, KFC has donated $30,000 to help pay for Victoria’s medical bills while they continue to investigate. Obviously an in ideal world, the whole thing wouldn’t have happened in the first place; at least, though, the company is responding appropriately.
Although she’s still got a long road ahead of her, we’re wishing Victoria the best and speediest recovery possible. If you want to help out with the medical bills, you can check out her GoFundMe page here.