Bike Helmets - why wear them?

 Rather than pummel your brain with statistics about why you and your kids should be wearing bike helmets when you ride to school, work, or just for fun, here are some stories from survivors:

Austin:  "Hi! My name is Austin K. When I was in sixth grade, I was an honor student. I played on the All Star Little League Team as a pitcher and on a competition soccer team. I used to ride my bike but I didn't like to wear a bike helmet. My mother tried to persuade me to wear one but I thought helmets were uncomfortable and hot. None of my friends wore bike helmets and I didn't exactly want to look like a jerk. Let me tell you how really wrong I was.....

 "On September 12, 1994, I went bike riding with my brother and a friend. I took a left-hand turn and started pedaling up the street when I got hit by a pick-up truck. My head got whipped back and forth, damaging many parts of my brain. I was actually near death when the ambulance got me to the hospital. My mother was told to go in and kiss me good-bye because they didn't think I would live more than a few hours. I was hurt very badly and slipped into a coma. I suffered a traumatic brain injury all because I had not been wearing a bike helmet. A respirator did my breathing, a tube in my stomach fed me, and a bolt in my head monitored the swelling in my brain.

 "When I finally woke up I had to be taught to eat, walk, talk and think all over again. I spent months in a wheelchair and had to rely on everyone else to do things for me. I spent my days enduring painful physical therapy sessions and longed to be normal again. When I first got hit all my friends paid attention to me, but slowly they all disappeared.

 "It's been four years now since my accident. Although I have made a remarkable recovery, I am very different as a result of that accident. I will never pitch another baseball game because my right arm won't work. I have had to settle for managing the soccer team instead of playing because my balance and speed are impaired. I am in special education classes because my injured brain cannot keep up in the regular classes. I will never be able to ride a bike or even drive a car. I still endure painful physical therapy sessions every week.

 "I'd like to leave you with a very important message.... No kid should ever have to go through what I did and am still doing. All of this pain and trouble that I am forced to deal with now could have been avoided if I had only worn a bike helmet. My message is simple, 'Please wear a bike helmet...Because I said so!'" Austin

The following stories have very different endings from Austin's -

 "I was out riding my bike and I wasn't paying attention. I ran into a car mirror, and it knocked me off (my bike). I hit my head, and my helmet cracked and split in half, but all that happened was I had a broken finger. "I didn't want to wear my bike helmet. I didn't think it was cool. But my Mom said if I didn't wear it I would be grounded from riding my bike. I think it saved me maybe from brain damage. Would I recommend that other kids wear a bike helmet? Yes. And I'd recommend that I wear one." - Justin S., age 12, St. Louis, MO

 "When I flew nine feet through the air and hit the pavement head first, I broke my bike helmet instead of my head. If I hadn't been wearing a helmet, there is a good chance I would have been killed or injured too seriously to ever ride a bike again." - Payton B., age 12, Bethesda, MD

 "Last Spring I was riding my bike up and down my block pedaling side to side. All of a sudden my bike made an unexpected turn and I crashed down toward the street. My bike helmet landed on a mound of asphalt. My helmet now has a large puncture, and my skinned knees have healed. Had my bike helmet not been on or properly secured, I would have hit my face or smashed my head." - Alison W., age 11, Bethesda, MD

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Source was a PDF from the county site but it's gone away....