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05/15/2007 12:15 PM -

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – In recognition of their “Put A Lid On It” (PALOI) helmet safety program, the Grand Rapids Griffins have been selected as the recipient of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan’s 2007 Prevention Award.

Each year, the Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI) honors organizations, programs, professionals and/or persons by the presentation of awards for outstanding contributions to the Brain Injury Association of Michigan and in the field of brain injury services. The Prevention Award, which recognizes the individual or organization that made the greatest single impact on promoting brain injury prevention programs and/or activities during the year, was presented to the Griffins during the BIAMI’s Annual Meeting of Members on May 5 in Birch Run.

2006 marked the third year of the Griffins’ PALOI program, which is presented by Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. The program’s mission is to reduce the occurrence and severity of head injuries sustained by children during wheeled sports and other outdoor activities.

“It’s great that the Griffins partner with so many different community organizations, such as Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, for their creative Put A Lid On It program,” said Michael Dabbs, BIAMI president. “Helmet safety is a surprisingly unique cause for a professional sports team to champion. The Griffins are tremendous role models and they’ve been successful in reaching thousands of children in West Michigan with their important message.”

Through partnerships with schools, libraries, health care providers, police departments and businesses spanning seven West Michigan counties, PALOI accomplishes its mission through a three-tiered approach involving prevention, education and reinforcement.

Prevention – With the support of PALOI sponsors, the Griffins provide the Greater Grand Rapids and Lakeshore Safe Kids coalitions with funds to purchase hundreds of bike and multi-sport helmets each year, which are distributed to underprivileged children through bike rodeos and other Safe Kids programs and events.

Education – Every year, 8,000 PALOI posters are distributed throughout Grand Rapids and the seven-county region. Through partnerships with the Grand Rapids Public Schools, the Kent, Ionia, Montcalm and Ottawa intermediate school districts, the Grand Rapids Public Library, the Kent District Library and numerous other organizations, these posters are displayed and made available to pick up in more than 400 elementary and middle schools, 50 libraries, and dozens of pediatricians’ offices, bike shops, sporting goods stores, recreation centers, ice rinks and area businesses.

The 2006 poster featured an Olympic theme, depicting nine Olympic athletes from the state of Michigan who’ve competed in helmeted sports in either the Summer or Winter Games: former Griffins defenseman Travis Richards (1994 Olympics), nine-time Tour de France cyclist Frankie Andreu (1996, 1988), Caledonia short track speedskater Kimberly Derrick (2006), Muskegon luge star Mark Grimmette (2006, 2002 Silver, 1998 Bronze, 1994), short track speedskater 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) and mountain biker Ann Trombley (2000).

Reinforcement – The PALOI posters invite kids to visit to sign a pledge to always wear their helmet. Children age 17 or younger who make a pledge (with parental permission) are rewarded with a voucher for two free tickets to a Griffins game and are registered for a drawing to win a new bike.

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

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

The helmet purchase, poster campaign and ticket program are made possible in part by the contributions of supporting PALOI sponsors, including BIAMI, Centennial Securities, Comcast, Grand Craft and the Village Bike Shop.

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