Tents make it easier for special needs families to attend events

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, August 27, 2017

By now, you’ve probably seen one of Jackson Heating and Air’s large white tents at a sporting event or another community gathering in LaGrange.

The tents provide air conditioning and a refuge from Georgia’s hot summer days.

But what many may not know is the reason Dale Jackson with Jackson Heating and Air made it a mission to provide these tents for community events. Jackson’s son Colin suffers from an extreme version of autism, making it difficult for him to attend outdoor community events. With that in mind, Dale rented a tent for the Fourth of July fireworks show at Pyne Road Park and allowed his employees to use it.

“I said let’s rent a tent. We’ll find a way to put some A/C in it, and we did,” Jackson said. “Now I’m able to bring my family out to enjoy the fireworks because of this air-conditioned tent and I can bring my son. I started thinking, well how many other families that are already going to be here will need to utilize our tent?”

After seeing how popular it was — and how it filled several needs in the community — the company bought its own tent. It included chairs for people to sit in, air conditioning or heat and a privacy area in one corner of the tent. The privacy area can be used for changing clothes or nursing mothers.

“I want to be able to provide the ability for every single family in Troup County to be able to participate in every single event that we have,” Jackson said. “We have a beautiful community, we have a lot of events, but so often the special needs community gets forgotten. Unless you are a special needs family — people don’t do it intentionally — but they don’t understand.”

Now Jackson Heating and Air has 40 or 50 events scheduled over the next two or three months, and Jackson just purchased his third tent. Every football game at Callaway Stadium will have a tent set up. A tent was also stationed at Lafayette Christian on Friday night. There will also be a tent at Sweetland Amphitheatre for events moving forward.

Jackson said the tents can be rented for family or corporate events, but that they won’t take precedent over community-wide events.

He also makes sure anyone who rents it allows families with special needs to use the tent.

“Unless you are a special needs family, you don’t understand that every single thing you do, there has to be a Plan B,” Jackson said. “Unfortunately, what happens is if you don’t have a Plan B, you don’t go, you don’t participate.”

Thanks to Jackson and Jackson Heating and Air, there is a Plan B.