Last week, the story of a 3-year-old girl, allegedly kicked out of a Mississippi KFC because her severe facial scarring was “scaring customers,” went madcap viral. While KFC’s official stance is that they are “still investigating” whether or not a grossly insensitive employee ejected the humiliated child, the Colonel of corporate fried chicken is making a gesture of contrition – KFC will foot the little girl’s $30,000 medical bills.
The startling allegation against KFC surfaced late last week on a Facebook page entitled “Victoria's Victories,” a heartbreaking run down of the recovery of 3-year-old Victoria Wilcher, who was brutally attacked in the face by a pit bull in April.
The Facebook page carried a photo, now seen by countless hundreds of thousands, of a smiling but shy Victoria, sporting a cartoon-decorated eye patch, with the caption now read-round-the-world:
Does this look scary to you? Last week at KFC in Jackson MS this precious face was asked to leave because her face scared the other diners.
KFC, realizing the potential enormity of their employee’s tactless blunder, responded with a statement, saying:
"As soon as we were notified of this report on Friday, we immediately began an investigation, as this kind of hurtful and disrespectful action would not be tolerated by KFC. Regardless of the outcome of our investigation, we have apologized to Victoria's family and are committed to assisting them. The company is making a $30,000 donation to assist with her medical bills. The entire KFC family is behind Victoria."
People.com recounts the story, saying Victoria’s grandmother, Kelly Mullins, took her to KFC after one of Victoria's many doctor visits. The grandmother ordered mashed potatoes for her granddaughter “because she thought the hungry child could swallow the soft food without chewing.”
Mullins alleged they were approached by an employee, who said: “We have to ask you to leave because her face is disrupting our customers.”
Kicked out and utterly humiliated, the little girl cried all the way home, the grandmother said. The realization that people were staring, and disgusted, was too much for Victoria to bear up under.
“She won't even look in the mirror anymore,” Mullins said. “When we go to a store, she doesn't even want to get out of the car.”
People.com picks up the story:
Victoria was attacked by pit bulls at her grandfather's home. The dogs broke her nose, both jaws, cheekbones and right eye socket; the right side of her face is paralyzed, and she lost that eye, according to her Facebook site. Her bottom jaw was reconstructed, but she needs a feeding tube and must grow more bone in her face before more surgery is possible.
This week, tens of thousands have now befriended Victoria and her Facebook page.
Fellow Mississippi KFC franchisee Dick West weighed in on the heartrending story, offering to throw a “big KFC picnic” in honor of Victoria.
Speaking of the other Mississippi KFC owners, West said that “in the 50 years they have operated in Jackson, anyone coming into their restaurants is to be treated with disrespect,” adding: “I am sure KFC will make their finding public as soon as the facts are in. In the meantime, I offered to treat Victoria to a picnic because regardless of the outcome of the investigation, she has been through more than any little girl should and I wanted to give her a special treat.”
Fox News carried the picture of a smiling Victoria. Certainly not scary, and most definitely a beautiful reminder of innocent hope despite tragedy.
Authorities said Victoria was attacked in April while visiting her grandfather, from whom Kelly Mullins is divorced. One of the dogs ripped open the front door and two other dogs dragged her into the backyard.
The three dogs that attacked Victoria were killed. The grandfather, Donald Mullins, and his girlfriend were arrested on child endangerment charges.
If this indeed did happen, is KFC doing enough? Leave your thoughts below, and head over to Victoria's Facebook page for more information on her recovery and how you might be able to assist.