Crate and Barrel apologizes to man with cerebral palsy over mask incident

VIDEO: Crate and Barrel apologizes to man with cerebral palsy over mask incident

Crate and Barrel apologized to a man with cerebral palsy who was asked to leave their Bellevue store two weeks ago.

Chris Hays, 28, says he wore his mask over his mouth, but his nose was exposed. Hays says he is unable to get enough oxygen through his mask and qualifies for the exemption to the mask order. Hays says he explained to two employees and a manager and was eventually asked to leave if he did not adjust his mask.

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Hays asked for an apology from Crate and Barrel and got one. Not only did the store apologize, they made a significant donation to help disabled children and adults in the Puget Sound Area.

“I felt like they gave me back my voice,” said Hays, who felt ignored when he visited the store.

Hays suggested Crate and Barrel make a donation to Outdoors for All. Crate and Barrel surprised him with a $10,000 donation in his name.

The donation was special to Hays who participated in activities with Outdoors for All for ten years as a child. Hays says that’s how he learned to ski and it gave him the chance to be outside with his friends. It also gave him independence and the confidence to speak up when he knew he was treated  unfairly at the store.

Outdoors for All executive director Ed Bronsdon was grateful for the donation.

“Thanks to people like Chris we can make more programs available to more people with disabilities,” said Bronsdon.”I congratulate Chris for the grace with which he responded and thinking of others.” He also expressed his appreciation to Crate and Barrel.

Crate and Barrel spokesperson Jill Assad spoke to Hays directly and apologized for how he was treated.

“Despite our best intentions, sometimes mistakes are made or plans don’t go according to plan. I like to think as an organization we act with good intent and I think you’re measured in most cases in life for how you respond and how you engage and how you make something better,” said Assad.

Outdoors for All will use the donation towards their Bikes for All program. Before the pandemic participants could come ride the 240 adaptive bikes at their Magnuson Park location. Now they’re delivering adaptive bikes to disabled adults and children to borrow and ride during the pandemic.

Hays is thankful he could make a positive difference.

“This opportunity to make my truth heard and my experience heard is so empowering and it gives people like me a voice,” said Hays.