City creates ordinance to protect kids from heat while playing sports

SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — A local city will have new protections in place to keep kids in sports from overheating this summer.

The city of South Fulton just passed an ordinance named after a 12-year-old who died after collapsing on a football field.

The family of Johnny Tolbert, their attorneys and councilmembers have been pushing for this action the last six years.

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When it did not get traction at the state capitol, the city decided to pass its own.

Tolbert’s mom, Tarithia, Wright can not help but think of her son, who would now be 18 and getting ready to graduate high school.

“He was my world. He was my best friend. I could not ask for a better child then him,” Wright said.

His young life was cut short in July 2016 on a 90-plus degree day.

He collapsed during a youth football practice at South Fulton’s Welcome All Park, and he later died from heat stroke.

His family said coaches did not know what to do, and it took 20 minutes for help to arrive.

“Even by the time he got to the emergency room, about an hour later, his temperature was still near 107 degrees,” attorney Harold Spence said.


Wright fought for the last six years and was unable to pass new state-wide regulations for youth sports. Led by South Fulton councilmember Helen Willis, the city just passed their own called the Johnny Tolbert Ordinance.

It says coaches must be trained on heat-related injuries and each facility is required to have a large 150-gallon tub of ice and water on hot days to put a player into to cool them down rapidly.

“It would have helped, would have helped. I can’t say it would save all the kids, but I can say it’s in right direction. It would help at least until the paramedics get there, it would help,” Wright said.

The city also announced Wednesday it is partnering with Braves legend, Marquis Grissom, and his youth baseball organization along with Georgia power to buy the new water vessels.

“I think we have to number one put safety first, that’s key for us, and coaching staff has to get educated on protecting our kids,” Grissom said.

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The new ordinance will take effect at all 17 parks in the city April through September on days where the temperature gets to 90 degrees or above for any games, practices or training involving anyone 18-years-old and younger.

“I have been fighting for six years and I will continue to fight until we get it all taken care of,” Wright said.






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