Chico Garcia to regain command of his home
Chico Garcia, a former LSU cheerleader and the squad's current associate head coach who was paralyzed from the neck down in a boating accident last summer, will soon be able to take back control of most of his Baton Rouge home's appliances and features thanks to emerging automation technology.
“Basically, Chico will be able to control everything in his home—from the lights, thermostat, TV and radio to the door locks, blinds and just about everything else—all with an iPad,” explains Stephen Carbaugh, director of operations for Mandeville-based Bayou Technology Group, which plans to complete the automation of Garcia's home in the next two months.
The entire automation package for Garcia's home will cost around $12,000. Proceeds from various fundraisers that have been held for Garcia since an Aug. 27, 2011, boating accident on the Amite River Diversion Canal left him quadriplegic will help pay for it. Bayou Technology Group, which does the bulk of its work in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, is providing the technology and installing it at its cost, and will not profit from the job, Carbaugh says.
Carbaugh attended LSU during the same time Garcia was on the cheerleading squad as a student in the early 2000s, but they never knew one another. The two serendipitously met at a home show in Baton Rouge this spring, at which Bayou Technology Group was displaying its automation products and services.
“He had no idea there was anyone like us around here who could do this kind of stuff,” Carbaugh recalls. “We just started talking about all the things we could do for him, and we've been getting together on the weekends ever since then to put it together.”
Before meeting Garcia, Carbaugh says Bayou Technology Group was primarily focused on the luxury market. Not anymore.
“Automation is really kind of a new thing, and most of the companies that are doing it are going after people with money, because it is a little pricey. But nobody is focusing on people like Chico, who have serious disabilities but can reclaim some of their independence with this technology,” Carbaugh says.
“We were in the same boat. We've been doing this for a little more than a year now, but we haven't put anything together for anyone who really needed it because of a disability. We really hadn't even thought much about it—until we met Chico. It's kind of changed our entire mindset, and what we're trying to do now is bring it to the mainstream and help others.”
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