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OLYMPIANS ASSIST GRIFFINS' COMMUNITY PROGRAM

Saturday’s Bike Rodeo Kicks Off Third Year of “Put A Lid On It”

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– Nine Olympic athletes from the state of Michigan are helping the Grand Rapids Griffins promote helmet safety to elementary and middle school children throughout West Michigan, in the third year of the team’s “Put A Lid On It” (PALOI) program, presented by DeVos Children’s Hospital.

These past and present Olympians who’ve represented the United States in either the Summer or Winter Games have lent their images to the Griffins’ 2006 PALOI poster, which will be displayed in more than 400 schools and 50 libraries throughout a seven-county region.

Featured on the poster are:
• Griffins defenseman Travis Richards (1994 Olympics)
• Nine-time Tour de France cyclist Frankie Andreu (1996, 1988)
• Caledonia short track speed skater Kimberly Derrick (2006)
• Muskegon luge star Mark Grimmette (2006, 2002 Silver, 1998 Bronze, 1994)
• Short track speed skater Alex Izykowski (2006 Bronze)
• Bobsledder Jean Prahm (2006, 2002)
• Women’s hockey legend Angela Ruggiero (2006 Bronze, 2002 Silver, 1998 Gold)
• Triathlete Sheila Taormina (2004 and 2002; also won Gold in swimming in 1996)
• Mountain biker Ann Trombley (2000).

“Our hope is that the unique appeal of these world-class athletes, many of whom recently competed in Turin, will help encourage children to wear a helmet when they ride their bikes this summer,” said Randy Cleves, director of media relations for the Griffins. “Their response to our program was overwhelming, and we’re honored that they so enthusiastically agreed to be a part of our effort this year.”

Click here to see the poster and visit the "Put A Lid On It" web site.

The PALOI program officially begins its third summer this Saturday, May 6, with a bike rodeo sponsored by Greater Grand Rapids Safe Kids – which, along with Lakeshore Safe Kids, is a PALOI partner. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Coit Creative Arts Academy (617 Coit NE). All kids are invited to bring their bikes, helmets and parents for two hours of fun and safety, featuring a bicycle obstacle course, bike registration and repair, and free refreshments.

A limited number of free helmets will be available at the bike rodeo, and Griff, the Griffins’ mascot, will be on hand to meet kids and help pass out the PALOI posters.

The goal of the PALOI program is to reduce the occurrence and severity of head injuries sustained by children during wheeled sports and other outdoor activities. Thanks to the involvement of DeVos Children’s Hospital and several supporting sponsors, as well as the participation of area schools, libraries and businesses, the program reaches children in Kent, Ottawa, Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Montcalm and Newaygo counties.

The PALOI program utilizes a three-tiered approach involving prevention, education and reinforcement.

Prevention – The Griffins provide the two local Safe Kids coalitions with funds to purchase hundreds of bike helmets, which are distributed to underprivileged children through bike rodeos and other Safe Kids programs and events.

Education – Eight thousand of the aforementioned PALOI posters will be distributed throughout Grand Rapids and the seven-county region. Through partnerships with the Grand Rapids Public Schools and the Kent, Ionia and Montcalm intermediate school districts, among others, these posters will be displayed in more than 400 elementary and middle schools and distributed to students throughout the community.

In addition, kids and parents will be able to pick up free copies of the poster at dozens of libraries throughout the area, as well as bike shops, sporting goods stores, recreation centers, ice rinks and area businesses.

Reinforcement – The PALOI posters invite kids to visit griffinshockey.com to sign a pledge to always wear their helmet, or to submit a photo of them wearing their helmet. Children age 17 or younger who do either (with parental permission) will be rewarded with a voucher for two free tickets to a 2006-07 Griffins game, and they’ll be registered for a drawing to win a new bike.

In addition, police offers in various communities throughout Kent and Ottawa counties – including Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Rockford, Wyoming and Zeeland – will coordinate a ticketing program to reward helmet usage. While on patrol or during neighborhood festivals, parades and other events, officers will “pull over” kids who are wearing their helmets and give them a ticket voucher. A minimum of 800 vouchers will be distributed through the ticketing program this summer.

According to results of a survey commissioned by the National Safe Kids Campaign, only 41 percent of children age 5-14 wear helmets while bicycling. In addition, the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute reports that half of the 800 bicyclists in the United States who die each year as a result of accidents are children under 15 years old.

Without proper protection, a fall from as little as two feet can result in a skull fracture or brain injury. Simply by wearing a helmet, the risk of brain injury can be reduced by as much as 88 percent.

Information for parents, including tips for choosing a helmet and getting children to wear it, is available at griffinshockey.com.

The helmet purchase, poster campaign and ticket program are made possible in part by the contributions of supporting PALOI sponsors, including the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, Centennial Securities, Chicago Drive & Kentwood Cycling & Fitness, Comcast, and Fuel Systems.


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