Family calls for consideration in respecting parking spaces meant for those with disabilities

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LIBERTY, Mo. -- Some people say it's a lack of consideration, to others it's just plain lazy. Now, one metro family is trying to influence others to respect parking spaces meant for people with disabilities.

It's all a matter of consideration for others, according to Cathleen Fournoy. The Liberty resident is a mother of five, including eight-year old Catie, who lives with a form of cerebral palsy.

The Fournoys are the force behind Catie Cares, a campaign that uses her face to remind drivers not to abuse parking spaces that are meant for people with disabilities. Catie's likeness is featured on a sign, emblazoned with the words "think of me" and "keep it free."

The signs are meant to sit just below the traditional blue and white models issued by state governments. As of Friday morning, the first crop of them are in place at the HyVee store on 63rd Street in Shawnee, Kan.

"There truly are people, including families, who utilize these spots, and to leave them free for these families, and for the individuals who have placards and license plates," Cathleen Fournoy said.

"When I park in them, they're so important to me," Catie Fournoy said.

Catie is in the first grade, and needs a special walker to get around. The Fournoys are partnering with Variety, a non-profit group from the metro that provides wheelchairs and other needs for special needs kids.

"They're just parking there because they're lazy," Catie added.

Brian Dunn is an assistant manager at the Shawnee HyVee location. He says the store sets aside more spaces for disabled parking than the law demands.

"If you need those spaces, by all means. That's what they're there for," Dunn said. "If you don't, leave it for the next person. Always try to pay it forward and do that good deed and help others."

Cathleen Fournoy says she's starting with HyVee stores, but that won't be the end of her drive. She says she also plans to approach churches and schools, asking them to use Catie's likeness to make the point.

Twenty-five percent of American families include someone with special needs, according to U.S. Census data. Breaking the parking space law in Kansas or Missouri will cost you a $50 fine.

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