BATON ROUGE, La. -- Longtime LSU fan Brian Betts had his season tickets.
No problem there. There was a problem, however, when Betts
received an invoice for $300 for his previously free parking spot.
Betts is a quadriplegic. One of his parents or a friend must
drive him to the games in his van fitted with a mechanical ramp. He
watches from his motorized wheelchair in the handicapped section.
Betts was prepared to turn the tickets ($252 each, plus his $50
annual membership fee in the Tiger Athletic Foundation) and the
parking pass back in to LSU. He averages only four games a year,
and did not want to pay what would amount to $75 per game to park.
Betts mentioned the problem on an internet group for Tiger fans
he belongs to. Another LSU fan, Claire Cagnolatti from Carrollton,
Texas, was determined to help. The two met at a 1999 game, when
Cagnolatti was in a wheelchair recovering from a broken leg.
Cagnolatti e-mailed members of the group, asking them to pitch
in to pay for Betts' parking pass. Eventually, 12 group members
sent her $25 each. Betts received a check and a photo of LSU coach
Nick Saban pointing at the camera. There was also a caption: "We
want you ... to have a great parking space."
"At first, I wasn't going to accept," Betts said. "But after
talking to them, I went ahead and bought the parking pass with my