Justin Bieber’s track record of charity work and interacting with special needs children has long been considered exceptional. But according to the mother of a Down Syndrome teenager, she and her son were “disappointed” by the amount of time Justin spent with them at an event.
Jared Bedard, 16, and his mother, Karen, met the Canadian singer at a Meet and Greet session in Boston, Massachusetts on Saturday after winning a competition, Radar Online reports.
The website says Jared raised thousands for Cure AT/RT, a children’s cancer charity.
It’s a cause Bieber also supports, after Avalanna Routh — a six-year-old fan he befriended — died of the condition last year.
However, Jared’s mother went on to describe a hectic, almost chaotic event that was nothing like she had imagined.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I wasn’t expecting that,” she told Radar. “Personally, a meet and greet, I was expecting to really meet him [Bieber], like maybe 20 people, tops. But they were doing photos in groups of five — all screaming girls, in and out — It was just crazy.”
She adds: “Jared told me that Justin said ‘What’s up man’ to him, but that was it. I was just thinking Justin would talk to him a minute alone. Not like an hour or something, just even a minute. Maybe shaking his hand and saying, ‘Congratulations buddy!'”
However, Karen did cut Bieber some slack.
Noting the commotion of the meet and greet, she said: “I tried to say, ‘This is Jared. He won, he raised money to fight childhood cancer,’ but it was too loud and Justin didn’t hear me.”
“I know there were a lot of people there who had paid for the meet and greet, but it was a huge thing for Jared,” she went on. “It was a huge undertaking for him to raise the money to meet him. I just don’t know anymore.”
But, while Karen was reportedly upset that the event seemed rushed, she also wondered if the 19-year-old was inadequately briefed by his team about the personal stories of fans attending.
“I think his publicists probably just told him to just show up and pose for a few pictures and be done,” she noted. “He probably didn’t know.”
The mom also said she and her son had a great time at the show afterwards.
From the sounds of it, it seems a little unfair to blame Bieber for what was likely an intensely busy meet and greet that he didn’t organize. In addition, given his long history of philanthropy with his fans it seems unlikely he would snub one with an obvious disability.
Perhaps a more reasonable interpretation is that the manic nature of the events and the fans who go to them, probably doesn’t make it possible to create the calm environments ‘special needs’ fans like Jared may require.
Although it seems Bieber does try his best, and before every single Believe tour show.