On June 18th, I was one of the many writers who caught wind of the story of the three-year- old who was asked to leave a KFC restaurant because of her facial injuries. Like others, I was seriously taken aback at the actions of the patrons and employees because asking someone to leave a public eatery due to a disfigurement is abhorrent.
It’s being reported now that KFC has concluded their investigation and there is no proof an employee asked the girl and her grandmother to leave the premises, as alleged on Victoria’s Victories Facebook page. It was a hoax that, much like the anti-gay receipt hoax of late, grabbed America’s attention and made us all very angry from behind our computer screens. Despite my inherent skepticism, I can fully admit that the internet has duped me a few times in the past, it happens to us all. This time, with Victoria’s picture plastered everywhere and the story that she cried all the way home and didn’t want to go out in public because of how she looked really tugged at my blackened heart strings.
Will the family have to return the money donated by KFC? It doesn’t look like it. Rick Maynard, a spokesman for KFC, has said the $30,000 donated to help with Victoria’s medical bills will not be affected and they continue to keep Victoria in their thoughts and prayers. As for all the regular people who donated? The government has a consumer website about charity scams but Victoria’s Victories is a GoFundMe page and according to the website’s FAQ section you can raise money for any personal cause so long as it doesn’t break any laws, so Victoria’s Victories seems to be in the clear.
Recently a little girl came around my neighborhood selling pepperoni rolls to help buy her cheerleading uniform for the local elementary school. I read her form, filled it out with my info, paid cash and was promised a call on pick-up day. I never got a call, never saw the little girl again and I damn well didn’t get my rolls.
There are consequences for hoaxes and publicity stunts. Balloon Boy’s family had to pay $36,000 in restitution because of their antics and a waitress in New Jersey was fired when it turned out the anti-gay receipt she supposedly received from a customer was faked. While these two examples of hoaxes perpetuated by these individuals don’t hurt larger activism efforts directly, I know I will be more discerning when it comes to hot topics sourced from Facebook, and I definitely don’t plan on buying anymore pepperoni rolls from random children who knock on my door.
Editor’s note: A family member of Victoria Wilcher maintains that this incident occurred and allegations of a hoax are untrue. The incident was reported to WAPT-TV earlier this month by Wilcher’s grandmother, Kelly Mullins. The owner of the KFC franchise, Hannon Foods, after reviewing countless hours of surveillance videos and hiring private investigators, added, “As of today, neither Hannon Food Services nor the outside firm involved in the consultation has found any evidence to verify that the incident took place at our restaurant on Woodrow Wilson Drive. Nevertheless, we’ll continue to exhaust every possible avenue until we’re absolutely sure we have all the facts.”