Falum Gibson has dreamed of meeting Justin Bieber since she saw him performing on YouTube in 2008.
That dream is now in the hands of the Air Canada Centre.
The 18-year-old has a pair of VIP, meet-and-greet tickets when Bieber performs at the Air Canada Centre this May.
But Gibson was born with cerebral palsy, and uses a wheelchair.
She was told that her seats aren't wheelchair accessible, and she won't be able to go.
In response, the Peterborough teen started a petition to make all aspects of the ACC accessible.
The tickets, which cost $2,000 each, were bought for her as a gift. She called being able to go see Bieber "the most amazing thing in my life."
She was told originally that the floor seats were accessible by wheelchair. But later, she found out that was inaccurate and she would have to buy other wheelchair-accessible seats. By the time she found that out, though, the tickets were sold out.
On top of that, she was told the area where ticket-holders would meet the pop star was also not wheelchair accessible.
She has waited eight years for this improbable moment, but she was more than disappointed. Gibson was frustrated.
"I've dealt with the barriers my entire life," she said. "But I think it's important now that all public buildings should look at being accessible."
The ACC said the seats were inaccessible due to the building's fire plan. The meet-and-greet, it said, was the promoter's responsibility. The ACC was built to code in 1999, but now some accommodation is needed for unique circumstances, arena officals said.
"Our goal is to make sure everyone who comes into building has first-class experience," said
Dave Haggith, senior director of communications for MLSE.
So the building is working on a solution for the teenager to still meet Bieber.
Bigger than Bieber
Gibson counts herself as a genuine Belieber, or devotee of Justin Bieber.
"I love his personality and music. He just has a way of bringing people to a happy place," she said. "I've been through foster care, and had some emotional struggles, and always turning on his music makes me forget about the things in my life that have not been so great."
So she really wants to meet him. But somewhere between getting the tickets, being told she can't go, and now being allowed to go again, she became emboldened to make a change. What started as a campaign to see the singer of such hit songs as Where Are Ü Now and Love Yourself is now a fight for accessibility in Ontario.
"I realize it's hard to fix an architectural barrier, but there are always ways around barriers," she said. "Hopefully we can come to a common ground."
Though she hasn't got full confirmation she will be able to get into the meet-and-greet and the concert, Gibson is optimistic. And proud.
"Honestly, it feels amazing just to know I did that for myself, I advocated for myself, to make that happen," she said. "And I advocated for other people cause they might think about different ways to accommodate now. It might open their eyes a little bit to instances in the future."