© Associated Press photo
Shania Twain performs at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Dec.1, 2012.
When Shania Twain takes the stage in Charlottetown Saturday night, the applause will be deafening.
And no one will be applauding the country music superstar harder than 34-year-old Shallen Jackson of Halifax.
Jackson, who has Down Syndrome, has been over the moon since Easter when she received a home-made card from her parents, Jerry and Donna, informing her she was going to see her idol in Charlottetown in August.
Jackson, who’s been listening to Twain since she was a teenager, reacted exactly the way her parents expected she would when she got the news.
“She freaked out,” Jerry Jackson said Tuesday from his cottage in Nova Scotia.
“She just screamed. She took that little homemade card to her work, to her group home, to her friends’ homes. She’s shown that invitation to hundreds of people.”
Jerry expects Shallen will be riveted to the stage Saturday night.
“And while Shallen is watching Shania, my wife and I will be watching Shallen.”
The story behind this story is worth reading.
In February of this year, Jerry and Donna Jackson were in Las Vegas and took in Shania Twain’s Still The One show at Caesar’s Palace.
On the flight home, Jerry said his only regret about the trip was that Shallen had not been there to see Shania because her show was incredible.
He made a commitment that if Shania Twain ever came to the northeastern seaboard of Canada or the United States that Shallen would get to see her idol perform. Less than a month later, Twain’s Charlottetown show was announced.
“We couldn’t believe it.”
Efforts to secure tickets began almost immediately, and with the help of Guardian publisher Don Brander, an old friend, and TC Media director of sales, Heather Tedford, he was able to secure the much sought after grandstand tickets.
Jackson said he didn’t tell his daughter right away but waited until Easter morning.
“We used part of the brochure from Las Vegas to make our card. The card say Happy Easter Shallen, your mom and dad have purchased tickets for you to see Shania in Charlottetown.”
It’s a great story but it doesn’t end there.
Once they had tickets, they knew they had to act fast to find accommodations or they’d have to drive back to Halifax after the show.
But all the hotels were filled.
A short time later, Jackson was in Moncton on business and stayed at the Rodd Moncton Hotel. While there, Jackson told them of his efforts to get a room. Staff checked with their properties on P.E.I. but there was nothing.
“He said no, every hotel is booked, I said ‘look, you’ve got a chance to be a hero here. It would help make a dream come true if you could find us a room.’ He spoke to his boss and a week later I got a call from the Atlantic regional manager and he said they’d set aside a room for us at Brudenell. We’re very very grateful. Our daughter’s dream is coming true.”
Jackson said the only thing that would make this experience even better for his daughter would be for her to actually meet Twain.