Home > Parenting Lessons > Southern Hospitality

Southern Hospitality

Today I booked a get-away weekend for my family to Nashville, Tennessee.  While booking the hotel room, we discovered that the CMA Music Fest was in town for the same weekend that we had decided to travel there.  We were super excited to find out that Reba McEntire was playing at the LP (home of the Tennessee Titans football team) on the first night that we would be in town.  My oldest daughter is a huge Reba fan so I went to the ticket site and tried to purchase seats for the concert.

That is where my trouble started.  My daughter, Lauren, the one who loves Reba McEntire, is 16 years old and paralyzed from the chest down.  She uses an electric wheelchair to move around this world so I selected the icon which was provided for purchasing accessible seating.  I received an email within minutes from TicketMaster stating that I would have to book the seats directly through the CMA Music Fest site so I looked up the number and called them.

I spoke to a nice young man who informed me that there were no seats left in the wheelchair seating section but that there were plenty of seats available elsewhere.  I asked him if I could purchase regular seats and just transfer my daughter from her wheelchair to a regular seat once we were inside the stadium.

That was when I was informed that if a patron came into the stadium in a wheelchair that they had to remain in their wheelchair.  He suggested that I speak to a supervisor to see if there was something else that could be done.  I accepted his offer and went on to explain what had occurred to the young lady that came onto the line after I was transferred. She confirmed what the young man had told me, but had some helpful advice.

If you want to carry her from the parking lot to her seat that would be fine.

I know she was trying to be helpful so I tried to explain that my daughter weighed around 125 pounds and that carrying her would be quite a feat from the parking lot to a seat through the crowds.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that my daughter’s wheelchair was going to keep her from going to a concert in a stadium that can seat nearly 70,000 people for a football game but couldn’t find a way to let her have a seat unless she could get to it without her wheelchair.

It weighed on my heart all afternoon.  She didn’t know that she was going to miss out on an opportunity because of her handicap but I did.  For better or worse, I made a decision by the end of the afternoon and called the CMA Fest ticket line.

If you happen to be at the LP field on Thursday, June 11, you may see a father carrying his 16 year old daughter through the ticket line, through the hallways, and finally to her seat.  I don’t know how much longer I will be able to do these types of things for her, but I wasn’t going to let a little bit of Southern Hospitality stop her from having the opportunity this trip.

  1. May 12, 2009 at 2:01 am

    Seriously? I can’t believe that! Can’t they at least allow you to come early and use the wheelchair up to the door? I’m sorry. That makes me so mad! Stupid turncoat Titans. I’m from Houston. I’m still a little bitter…

    But you’re a good daddy.

    • May 12, 2009 at 2:16 am

      I am trying not to be bitter about the whole thing because I want to focus on the positive experience with my family. I learned long ago that life is not fair and she has been a super trouper about learning that lesson as well.

      I am going to have my wife take us as close to the door as possible and I was able to pay the higher prices for seats that would be as close to the doors as possible. So I have gone as far as I can go with my brains and finances… so now its left to brute strength. Fortunately, I’m a brute 🙂

  2. May 12, 2009 at 2:41 am

    This really angers me. And if the truth be known, Reba wouldn’t be too happy about it either.

    But what an awesome Dad you are – pulling out all the stops. Wow.

    • May 12, 2009 at 2:58 pm

      Let’s just say that I am determined. 😉

      Now if I throw my back out and have to go in traction I am going to look like a big idiot. 🙂 My girls tell me that I am good at that.

  3. May 12, 2009 at 7:26 am

    He carries us through this life and we carry our kids!

    I am reminded daily of how blessed I am to have access to the lives of people like you. I don’t pick up anger here, which would be my and probably most of our first reactions, but simply a father’s love for his daughter. I applaud you in so many ways. I wish I could be there…I’d carry you both in :-).
    Hope you have an awesome time!!

    • May 12, 2009 at 3:09 pm

      Oh, I had a moment where I thought I was going to get angry but it subsided and turned into a few moments of disappointment. I am stubborn and just a bit stupid so I am not afraid to try something that may seem silly to others.

  4. May 12, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Tony: You da man! First, you go to great lengths to stay connected to those people. Second, you keep your cool. Third, you go out of your way for your daughter (I can hear it now on the radio…”She ain’t heavy…”). Fourth, you are taking her to hear Reba. Any man who will do that and put up with that is a real man in my book. (Sorry all you Reba fans. I just can’t handle her voice). Fifth, you put up with a bunch of misfits who make stupid, lousy rules and buildings. What a dumb rule! Sixth, Lauren will remember this till the day she died and that makes you a real man/hero in her eyes and in the eyes of all who read this story. Way to go Tony!

    • May 13, 2009 at 10:54 am


      Thank you for the support. I will let you all know how it turns out.. I may even blog about it that night from the hotel room.

      I was fortunate to at least have found an operator that was willing to work with me within the rules that they had set.

  5. May 13, 2009 at 2:53 am

    That truly does suck. There’s just no other way to say that. But good for you for going the extra mile. You get Daddy of the Year in my book.

    And for what it’s worth, Tennessee has always been a little suspect to me as far as being Southern. If the concert were in Richmond, I’d have a dozen Virginia boys there. Two to carry her, and ten to clear the way. THAT’S Southern hospitality.

    • May 13, 2009 at 10:47 am

      dude… your comment made laugh… I loved the picture of 10 Virginia boys walking ahead yellin’, “Y’all move outta way!” and then one of the group would remind the others, “Purdy Please, ya gotta say purdy please.”

      {The other nine would be thinking, “shuddup, pollyanna.”}

      Thanks for your kind words.

  6. May 15, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    So I just came over after reading your hilarious comment on caressing during the Eucharist at Matt’s blog, and this is the first story I stumble on. What an amazing dad your daughter has. Totally moved by this account, and then get to Billy’s and your exchange on the Virginia boys. Now I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. You’ll have to update after the event. And thanks for what you’re doing. Maybe stubborn, but a pretty special moment for your daughter.

    • May 18, 2009 at 1:49 pm

      Ahh… Virginia boys… forged from the foot hills of the Appalachia. Good men.

      Lyla.. thank you for your kind words… I am just a dad still trying to figure it all out.

  7. May 26, 2009 at 3:28 am

    I am a huge Reba fan and found this story on a message board. I linked it back to this blog, and I will say that you are one amazing dad to do that for your daughter. I emailed this story to Reba herself and a few friends of mine from the board also emailed this to Starstruck Entertainment. I hope you and your daughter enjoy her performance. I will be there, and maybe I’ll see you. Have an amazing day. You deserve it for doing such an amazing thing.

    • May 26, 2009 at 12:07 pm


      Thank you for your kind words. We are all looking forward to the family time that we can share that weekend. Things have been pretty hectic so far this year and it will be nice to get away ‘from-it-all’ for a few days.

      That would be really cool if we did bump into you at the concert. We purchased seats in section 118 towards the back and on the end so that I wouldn’t have to carry Lauren across anyone. I didn’t mention this before, but my wife is a huge Reba fan as well. When we were first married and without kids, I would get her a cd of Reba’s each year for Christmas.

      My wife and daughter got to see Reba in concert last year in Columbus, Ohio. Lauren still talks about that night that they got to spend together listening to Reba. I played taxi service for them that night so they wouldn’t have to worry about parking and it was so cool to hear the excitement in their voices as they retold the story about that concert.

      I can’t believe its only a couple of weeks away for this upcoming concert. Time sure does fly by… !

  8. Carolyn
    June 1, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Tony, I couldn’t find your email anywhere on your blog, so I’m hoping you could drop me a note when you get a second. Thanks!

    • June 1, 2009 at 10:33 pm

      My apologies.. I hadn’t realized that I didn’t/don’t have it posted. Please feel free to contact me at yorktony@yahoo.com. 🙂

      I sent you an email from that address to make it easier.

      God Bless.

  1. June 3, 2009 at 3:43 pm

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