The Herald Bulletin

August 22, 2013

Bicycle Rodeo teaches skills and safety

100 free helmets to be given away Saturday

By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin

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ANDERSON — There won’t be any bucking broncos, but there will be plenty of kids getting the hang of having fun on their bikes the safe way at Community Hospital Anderson’s first ever Bike Rodeo. The rodeo takes place this Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of Anderson Public Library.

The rodeo is an opportunity for kids to hone their bicycling skills and to learn how to ride safely. The first 100 kids age 12 and under will receive a free bike helmet courtesy of a man who knows firsthand what happens to kids who land on their heads.Dr. James Callahan, a neurosurgeon at Community Hospital Anderson, said that helmets can be very effective at preventing skull fractures, concussions and contusions (bruising to the brain) in the kind of low-speed accident kids often have on their bicycles. Sometimes, those injuries can be serious. “We had two children that had mild brain injuries,” said Callahan. One of the kids was riding a bicycle, and the other was on a skateboard. “Neither one of the kids had a helmet.” When Callahan spoke to the mother of one of the children about using a helmet, she said she couldn’t afford it.“I felt so bad about the fact she couldn’t afford to buy a helmet,” said Callahan. “For a $15 helmet, we can keep these kids out of the hospital."

Callahan approached Keith Trent at the Community Hospital Anderson Foundation to jump-start the initiative for Saturday’s event. Callahan and his wife, Betsy, donated funds to purchase 100 helmets to give away.

"I think there is a need in our community," agreed Trent. "I certainly appreciate Dr. Callahan presenting this opportunity and making us aware. ... It's been a great way to partner with some other organizations."

Anderson’s Spoke and Wheel Bicycle Club happily jumped on board to help organize the rodeo. Chuck Baden, president of the club, said members will give a safety presentation followed up by a quiz. Representatives from the Anderson Police Department will also get the kids up to speed on the rules of the road.

“We’re showing them the nuts and bolts,” said Baden. The club is also setting up an obstacle course complete with stop signs and turns.“We want to instill the idea that helmets are not just for safety, helmets are cool,” said Baden, noting that astronauts and football players wear helmets, too. He’s excited about getting kids started out with proper riding habits. “We want to instill safe riding habits into kids at an early age … Riding a bike is a responsibility much like driving a car.”Another expert on hand will be the folks from Buckskin Bikes. They will perform checks on the bicycles to look for any problem areas like low tires, loose handlebars or faulty brakes. Snacks and water are being provided by Culligan Water. The Anderson Police Department will also have DNA kits. The Anderson Fire Department will participate as well with fire prevention and safety information.Baden said that the Spoke and Wheel club has been doing helmet giveaways for about 15 years, but they’re excited about heightened energy on the issue and partnering with other organizations to give children’s bicycle safety better visibility, and to get more kids in the helmet habit.“I think it’s pretty spectacular,” said Dr. Callahan.

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If you go:What: Bicycle Rodeo When: Saturday, Aug. 24, 10 a.m. to noon Where: Anderson Public Library parking lot, 12th and Central Avenue. More info: Kids are encouraged to bring their own bicycles. The first 100 kids age 12 and under will receive a free new helmet.