ATLANTA - A woman whose young son died from heat stroke during football practice is pleading with lawmakers to make a change at public parks and recreation centers.
Michelle Wright made an emotional plea Monday during a hearing on a proposed bill for the second time in three years.
Wright is asking for ice tubs large enough to hold adolescent and teenage athletes who get overheated and start showing signs of heat stroke.
The experts who testified in front of the State and Local Government subcommittee said having the tub on hand would give young recreation league athletes a chance to cool off before the ambulance responds to a heat stroke call. But some say it's just not that simple.
Michelle Wright, next to her attorney Harold Spence, testify via Zoom to the Georgia House State and Local Government subcommittee on March 7, 2022. (Georgia General Assembly)
Johnnny Tolbert was 12 years old when he collapsed at Welcome All Park in South Fulton County during a recreation league football practice. His family's attorney said it was 93 degrees, 36 percent humidity when he collapsed in July 2016.
In 2019, State Rep William Boddie introduced a measure that would call for all parks and recreation centers to have a portable cooling tub on hand, one large enough to fill with ice and water if a player of any size collapses or shows others signs of heat stroke.
The measure has hovered at the committee level for the last couple of years. Monday, with tears in her eyes, Johnny's mother asked a subcommittee to back the bill and get it moving through the gold dome.
"I'm not only asking for him, I’m asking for the other kids that are playing sports out here too," Wright told the committee.
Johnny Tolbert posses with his mother and father. (Family photo)
"We know his change for survival would have been enhanced had his body temperature been allowed to cool down in a cold water tub," said attorney Harold Spence.
This was Ms. Wright's second time testifying before a House subcommittee. There is some opposition to this measure from those who said more than a tub is needed and points to issues of cost, logistics, training and sanitation.