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The Scarlet & Black

Bikes To You and GRMC donate helmets to kids

This year, UnityPoint Health® — Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC) will donate 550 bike helmets to third grade students. Facilitated by the GRMC, the program relies on sponsorship from several local businesses, the support of medical center employees and additional community members, including Bikes To You owner Craig Cooper.

According to Cooper, the program is based on the initiative of Dr. Phillip Brooks, a former radiologist at the GRMC. As a radiologist, Brooks frequently saw head injuries that he knew would be easily preventable if children learned to wear helmets, a practice that they would ideally carry into adulthood.

In the mid-1990s, Brooks used to stop by Bikes To You and hand Cooper a check for $300. “Hey man, I want you to use this money to give helmets to little kids,” Cooper recalled Brooks saying.

Cooper set aside a fund for the helmets, but he did not see very many kids in his store. After Brooks had given Cooper three or four checks, each for $300, Cooper began to feel guilty that he would not be able to distribute the helmets as widely as Brooks would have liked.

Cooper suggested they take Brooks’ idea and make it official. The idea, which promotes a healthy and responsible lifestyle, aligns with the values that the GRMC wishes to encourage, so the GRMC took on the project. As it developed initially, the GRMC staff almost exclusively funded the program. Cooper credited GRMC nurse Kim Jones as being essential in expanding the program by securing outside donations.

“Providing bike helmets to young people helps them build healthy lifestyles from an early age. Our goal is to promote safe biking education and long-term safe habits for wellness by providing helmets to third graders,” wrote Heidi Ramaeker Pearson, the GRMC communications and development specialist, in an email to The S&B.

To satisfy the goals of the GRMC, Cooper will give a presentation on helmet safety to third grade students at 12 elementary schools: Brooklyn-Guernsey-Malcom, Central Iowa Christian School, East Marshall, Green Mountain Garwin, Grinnell-Newburg, Lynnville-Sully, Meskwaki Settlement, Montezuma, North Mahaska, Sully Christian, South Tama and Hartwick-Ladora-Victor.

The presentations will occur when Cooper distributes the helmets over the course of four days, May 1 through May 4. He will also adjust the helmet straps and band to individually fit each of the students.

While not all students have a bike, Cooper says that the program encourages students to wear a helmet whenever there are wheels beneath their feet — whether that be on a bike, rollerblades or a scooter.

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