Kids told to put a lid on it
October 21, 2002
Dr. Thomas Moore, a vocal local advocate of helmet use among young skiers and snowboarders, frequently visits valley schools to educate kids about lids.
Moore, an orthopedic surgeon with offices in Basalt and Crested Butte, often starts each school visit by asking those who use helmets while biking to raise their hands. No matter what school or grade Moore speaks to, the majority of his young audience has learned about the importance of bike helmets.
Unfortunately, he said, active children don’t always make the same association between lids and ski lifts.
“But do you go faster skiing or biking?” Moore will ask the assembled students. Though the children acknowledge that they’re speedier on the slopes, this knowledge doesn’t necessarily lead to an increase in helmet purchases.
In his quest to make helmet use “the cool thing to do,” Moore established a helmet dispersal program in Crested Butte. The program has distributed 100 helmets to children annually since 1995.
But Moore’s quest didn’t end there. After establishing his practice in Basalt in 1998, the physician also offered an extension of the helmet program. On Saturday, Moore’s office was flooded by the participants in his fourth annual helmet giveaway.
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The physician established the Thomas P. Moore Sports Medicine Foundation and its helmet program “as a way of doing something from a health-care standpoint” to prevent tragic ski-related deaths such as the ones that plagued Aspen slopes last winter.
“But granted, the catastrophic things that happened last year made people think that something as simple as wearing a helmet could prevent a sad situation,” he said.
Program assistant Wendy Lucas first contacted officials with Obermeyer Sports, who put her in contact with the Massachusetts-based president of Ovo Helmets. The company president, who actually attended an East Coast college with another Basalt physician, agreed to provide the helmets at cost to help the fledgling program.
“We probably never would have been able to provide 100 helmets if they hadn’t,” Moore said.
He said he has seen evidence that the program is catching on. Kids often drop by his office to show off helmets they cracked or even split in two during a day on the slopes. Excitement among children makes Moore’s significant investment in the program worthwhile, he said. Though the Roaring Fork Land Co. handles the program’s advertising and the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation awarded a $1,000 grant for his venture, Moore funds the bulk of the program alone. (Moore does note that any donation made to his program is tax deductible.)
With just over an hour left in Saturday’s fitting session, more than 60 of the 125 children who enrolled in the program had turned out to have their noggins measured and enjoy a few cookies laid out by Moore’s office staff. Children chose between four top-of-the-line Ovo Helmet models provided in five colors.
After having their measurements taken, the children were asked to sign a helmet program pledge. As each proud new helmet owner printed their name on the pledge, they agreed to don the protective gear before any ski outing.
The helmet program aims to outfit children from kindergarten through the sixth grade, but Moore estimated Saturday’s youngest participant to be about 2 1/2 years old, while the oldest program beneficiary was a 17-year-old high school senior.
“So far, everyone has come with a parent, but the older kids are just as excited as the younger kids,” he said.
And kids weren’t the only ones to receive a lesson in ski safety on Saturday. Moore said he and his assistants also talked to parents about the importance of head protection on the slopes.
“We try to embarrass them into it. We tell them, ‘You have to be a role model,'” he said.
Aspen resident Carmie Cook brought sons Tanner, 9, and Trevor, 12, to the fitting. Both boys, dedicated skiers since they were toddlers, have worn helmets through their entire sporting career, Carmie said ? a necessary but expensive accessory, since the brothers seem to outgrow their helmets every two years.
Tanner was fitted for a red version of an Ovo bestseller, the Storm, while Trevor picked up a black model of the same helmet. While Carmie said she was glad to save a few hundred dollars as the brothers prepare for another ski season, the personal fitting of each child seemed to be her favorite part of the helmet program.
“It’s also nice that they’re fitting them. It’s hard to get them right in the stores,” Carmie said.
Moore expects to hand out the helmets on Nov. 15, giving Ovo representatives plenty of time to fill his orders.