City working to OK face shield for practice for 12-year-old football player with disability

Published on: 9/16/2009

City of Oconomowoc - Graham Bartunek, 12, just wants to level the playing field.

He and his family are hoping to repeal an equipment prohibition that currently bans the use of tinted face shields in the AAYFL (All American Youth Football League),  an accommodation that would allow the student athlete to compete despite his disability.

Born with a condition known as albinism, a defect of melanin production that results in little or no color (pigment) in the skin, hair, and eyes, and partially blind, Bartunek said the shield protects his skin and eyes that are especially sensitive to the sun. 

City of Oconomowoc Park and Recreation Director Ray Mauer, said Wednesday morning that his department was working through the issue and hoped to have it resolved, on their end, by the end of the day.

“What we’re doing on the City’s behalf is talking with our attorney and insurance carrier so that it’s possible for Graham to use the tinted shield in practice,” he said.

“But it’s out of our hands if he can use it in the games,” Mauer said.

That ruling would have to be made by the AAYFL; the league is not run by the City.

Attempts to reach a representative of the AAYFL prior to deadline were unsuccessful.

“We’re caught in the middle of this,” he said.