Just think about it.
That’s the message Carmen Lofgren wants to spread when it comes to wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle, scooter or skateboard.
Lofgren’s son, Gary, 25, wasn’t thinking about it when, on Sept. 20, 2014, he hopped on his bike to go play football with friends at a park in Anaheim Hills.
Gary was going downhill and was only three blocks from his home when he fell off his bike. The exact circumstances of what caused the accident are unclear.
He suffered brain injuries and was in a coma for a month before he died Oct. 20.
Doctors told Gary’s family that wearing a helmet could have meant the difference between life and death.
So now, Lofgren’s mission is to get people to think about wearing helmets before they get on their bike — even for just a short ride.
Lofgren shared her tragic story Tuesday during a presentation to Anaheim Fire & Rescue of a $15,000 grant from CITA Insurance Services and Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company to support the fire service agency’s ongoing “Wear Your Helmet Like a Pro” program.
Targeting the city’s youth in a partnership with Anaheim’s seven school districts and non-profits, the program, launched in November 2013, encourages kids to wear helmets.
The grant will pay for bright-red, customized helmets that will be distributed for free to children and made available at each of Anaheim’s 11 fire stations.
In addition to CITA Insurance Services and Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, other partners in the helmet program include the Disneyland Resort, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Anaheim Ducks.
The “Wear Your Helmet Like a Pro” initiative includes public service announcements and autographed posters featuring players from the Angels and Ducks as well as Anaheim firefighters. This school year, Angels second baseman Johnny Giovotella joins the campaign.
“If we can save just one child, all this investment and time will be worth it,” Anaheim Fire & Rescue Chief Randy Bruegman said at the Sept. 1 presentation. Bruegman has made bicycle safety for the city’s youth one of his priorities.
More than half of scooter, skateboard and bicycle-related fatalities involving children are caused by head injuries, according to an AF&R news release.
Command officers and firefighters from Anaheim Fire & Rescue, along with representatives from CITA Insurance Services, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, Disneyland Resort and The Walt Disney Company were on hand for the grant presentation at Anaheim Fire Station No. 3.
“This is more than just a big check,” said Sally Archbold, executive director and new product development at Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty, parent company of Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. “This is an investment in our community and for the firefighters who protect our homes, businesses and, most importantly, our lives.”
Said John Jasinski, executive vice president of CITA Insurance Services: “We are honored to support Anaheim Fire & Rescue in such a meaningful way. This is a valuable program that will keep our youth safe.”
Since 2013, 2,500 autographed and bilingual “Wear Your Helmet Like a Pro” posters were given to Anaheim schoolchildren who exhibited good behavior and citizenship, and 3,000 helmets featuring AF&R’s emblem were given away, fire officials said.
Lofgren said the message is simple and cannot be reinforced enough:
Wear a helmet.
She never used to wear one when riding a bike until her son Gary, who attended Canyon High School, had his fatal accident.
Now the former Anaheim resident wears one every time she takes a spin around her neighborhood in Newport Beach.
“It’s my personal mission to get the word out,” said Lofgren, a unit manager in the Emergency Department at Kaiser Permanente in Irvine. She has three surviving adult children.
“I just want people to think about wearing a helmet,” Lofgren said.
To view a video of Gary’s story, click here.
For more information about the “Wear Your Helmet Like a Pro” program, visit www.anaheim.net/fire