Theodore's World: Paralyzed Marine Joshua Hoffman is Denied Free Entrance to Michigan Park

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June 19, 2009

Paralyzed Marine Joshua Hoffman is Denied Free Entrance to Michigan Park

Joshua Hoffman and his fiancee, Heather Lovell, attend the Memorial Day parade in Middleville.

Family angry when paralyzed Marine Joshua Hoffman is denied free entrance to Michigan's Adventure

FOX News

The family of a U.S. Marine is outraged after a Michigan amusement park insisted on charging the veteran admission to enter the park — despite his being a quadriplegic -- according to a newspaper report.

Heather Lovell told the Grand Rapids Press that she had been at the park acting as a chaperone for a children's group, and her fiance, Joshua Hoffman, was just meeting up with her there briefly before she took him to his stepbrother's graduation.

But even after she explained that Hoffman had been paralyzed in 2007 by a sniper's bullet in Iraq and is unable to speak, let alone go on rides, the park insisted both Hoffman and his nurse could not join her in the park without paying, Lovell told the Press

"It was really just outrageous," she said. "He is not physically going on any rides."

Michigan's Adventure General Manager Camille Jourden-Mark said park policy requires even non-participants to pay the admission fee.

"We just can't be in a position of picking and choosing. We have grandparents (who pay admission) that come in our park every day that have no intention of ever going on a ride," she told the Grand Rapids Press.

Jourden-Mark later offered the family complimentary passes for Hoffman and a guest, the Press reported. Lovell said she has not decided whether they will use the passes.

More of the story at ....GRAND RAPIDS NEWS........

Quadriplegic former Marine Joshua Hoffman waited in a van at Michigan's Adventure, hoping to see fiancee Heather Lovell in the park for an hour or two. Her father, Rockford resident Joel Lovell, explained to park staff that Hoffman is paralyzed and cannot talk. He assumed Hoffman would be admitted free.

But Lovell was told he would have to pay admission for Hoffman and the nurse tending to his medical needs. No exceptions.

"He went to Iraq for all of us and took a bullet in the neck. He sacrificed everything for his country," Joel Lovell said.
"I was just kind of stunned."

According to Heather Lovell, she and Hoffman planned to rendezvous from their home near Middleville on May 29 at the Muskegon County park, before heading to Reed City for the high school graduation of Hoffman's stepbrother.

Lovell had gone ahead to act as chaperone for a niece and others on a school outing. Joel Lovell picked up Hoffman and his nurse and headed for the park.

But Heather Lovell said she got a call from her father telling her to come to the park entrance.

"It was really just outrageous," she said. "He is not physically going on any rides. To me, this is very personal."

Hoffman, 27, was paralyzed from the chest down when he was hit by a sniper's bullet in Iraq in January 2007. He spent more than a year in a Virginia Veterans Administration hospital before coming home in March 2008.

He and Lovell, 22, share a specially equipped house with 24-hour nursing staff to assist Hoffman.

Camille Jourden-Mark, general manager of Michigan's Adventure, said park policy does not allow any non-participants in free.

"We just can't be in a position of picking and choosing. We have grandparents (who pay admission) that come in our park every day that have no intention of ever going on a ride.
"It's not based on the level of participation."

On Tuesday, Jourden-Mark offered complementary passes for Hoffman and a guest to Michigan's Adventure in response to the issue. Lovell said she has not decided whether she and Hoffman will use the passes.

"You want to be appreciative of it, but it took a lot of people complaining to them to realize what kind of mistake they had made," Lovell said. "We weren't looking for a free trip. It's just a problem with the policy."
Jourden-Mark said company policy is meant to shield employees from accusations of discrimination, but added "there are times when we make exceptions and this is definitely one of those times."

She noted the park offers one free admission with a paid admission for service members each Memorial Day. Jourden-Mark said park staff were unaware of Hoffman's condition.

"I don't think anybody was really aware that he was a veteran."

That's not what Joel Lovell, 54, recalled.

"I told (a park official) it is really a crummy policy. I explained that he is an Iraq veteran. He got shot in the neck and can't eat or talk. I thought they were joking."
Lovell said he initially was told he would have to pay the adult admission fee of $25 each for Hoffman and the nurse, then was offered a student discount.
Heather Lovell's sister, Belding resident Rebecca Lovell, said she contacted the park Friday to complain.
"I explained the extent of his injuries, that he was simply going for an hour or two.
"(A park official) said there was no proof of his injury. He could be faking it. She said if we let him come in for free, then we have to change our policy."
"I was absolutely blown away."


Wild Thing's comment.......

They should have let him in and this kind of thing is beyond unforgivable. I could care less if they use the excuse of grandparents that pay money and don't go on any rides. That is not the same thing, not even close. This man is an American Hero and should be treated as such and there are NO excuses for not doing so.

They would not be able to have a freaking Adventure Park if it were not for our Veterans and our troops. And if people don't understand this I have absolutely ZERO tolerance for them as human beings. Maybe they would prefer a nice government owned business where BIG brother gets all the profits and turns the owners of this park into simply managers to answer to the dictator.

Personally I think these theme parks should have all Veterans or active duty members free and then only charge their families. That would cover the need to make money but also pay much DUE respect to our Veterans and troops. For people that feel the way I do about this it would only encourage more business as word of mouth would be a great ad too telling others how awesome they are and how they treat our military. Non military people that support our troops would appreciate it too.


....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.

3rd Mar.Div. 1st Battalion 9th Marine Regiment
1/9 Marines aka The Walking Dead
VN 66-67

Posted by Wild Thing at June 19, 2009 05:45 AM


Don't get me wrong, here. I agree that the Marine should have been admitted without charge and feel the same way you do about the incident.
Looking at this from the Park's point of view, they have a point. In our Lawsuit Happy society, where every little incident can turn out to be a Million Dollar pay day for the alleged victim, places like the park have to cover themselves. By paying admission the attendee assumes some risk. Without that assumption the Park becomes very vulnerable. I am sure that the park administrators, given the choice would admit him. As a matter of fact the article mentioned that they offered free passes.

Posted by: SEAN HANAGAN at June 19, 2009 10:26 AM

Sorry this entire thing is unconscionable;
"(A park official) said there was no proof of his injury. He could be faking it. She said if we let him come in for free, then we have to change our policy."
Sounds like it could be happening here on the left coast around 'red square' and the Queen in Olympia, that would make it understandable.

A simple directive to the gatekeeper, a simple pass on hand for the incapacitated at the entrance for such ocassions. Instead of common sense judgement they got rigid enforcement from some pubic headed hemorrhoid sucking moron like those at city hall.

Seems to me that Marine Joshua Hoffman forfeited a gawdawful lot so their Muskegon, MI city can live free to tax the homes they live in, rented or owned. What say you Mayor Steve Warmington?

Any bets that part of those homeowner taxes are used to fund Michigan's Adventure.

Wounded warriors pay a lifelong price for the image they present, simply because they survived the harrowing horrors of battle. It is these very idiots who can't under stand why there is such a big suicide rate amongst veterans.

Marine Joshua Hoffman is just the latest example of treating a wounded warrior as battlefield detritus. Shame on you America!!! Pay to play is the Democrat way.

Don't tell Jeannie

Posted by: Jack at June 19, 2009 03:40 PM

Lawsuit ? He's a quadraplegic for godsake, if he got out of that chair and walked, I think he'd buy everybody a ticket.

If he did get up to get on a ride then demand payment. He's in a Wheelchair can only move his head, what a bunch of cheap bastards.

Posted by: Mark at June 19, 2009 07:15 PM

Sean, I hope so. I am just so sick and tired
of people not really appreciating who
brings us all our land of the frre and too
many times they snub our troops and our

Posted by: Wild Thing at June 19, 2009 07:44 PM

Jack, it reminded me a lot of during
the Vietnam War.

WOW Jack, thank you so much for the
links and information.

Posted by: Wild Thing at June 19, 2009 07:46 PM

Mark, what gets me is when the park people
go to their next moment of life for the
day, they will forget what happened. It was
noting more then an interruption in their
busy day.
But for the Marine and his girlfriend it
is there inside their hearts what happened.

Posted by: Wild Thing at June 19, 2009 07:51 PM