Friday, April 18, 2014

Features
Milwaukee Students Get Free Bike Helmets
by Jessica Tighe


Biking is a blast for the kids, but one big fall or crash is all it takes to change a child's life. One helmet can be a life-saver.

"Wearing a helmet can help prevent head or brain injury by 85% so it's important to wear a helmet each and every time you're out on wheels or on a bike," Lisa Klindt Simpson, Coordinator for Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin explains.

600 Milwaukee public school students now have helmets thanks to a Safe Kids event at State Fair Park.

"I've got two bikes, two scooters and one pogo stick," one of the students says excitedly.

"Wow! So you'll use this helmet a lot," one of the fitters replies.

The helmets were donated by a man you might not expect. He's a man known for his stern, no-nonsense demeanor in the courtroom: Bob Habush.

"As lawyers, we tend to respond to accidents and injuries that already happen and it's much better to prevent them," Habush says.

Habush's passion to promote child safety comes from the heart. It sparked after an incident with his first daughter. He says a defective vaccination damaged her brain.

"I've had a personal experience, my wife and I with a child who was injured by a defective product. It created a lot of empathy for other parents who lived through the same thing," Habush explains.

His firm has donated bike helmets to kids in our area for 14 years now. In fact, this summer the firm will surpass 115,000 donated helmets.

"How does it feel on your head? Does it feel snug right now? Yeah, okay good. It should feel snug," one of the fitters says to the next child getting a helmet.

It's a welcome sight for safety experts.

"Kids fortunately are wearing helmets more now than they were 10 years ago, but they're still not wearing them enough. They're not wearing them consistently enough and we also need to make sure we're fitting them correctly and that they have the right size helmet for the right size head," Simpson says.

Habush also had 40 of his attorneys certified as fitters.

"Can you give me a good shake? Shake, shake, shake! Up and down. Alright when you look up, can you see your helmet? Go like this. Can you feel it? Not too tight? Alright, looks good," one of the fitters says as she makes sure the helmet fits just right.

At the end of the day, hundreds of kids take home a cool new helmet and some wise advice.

"I'm supposed to wear a helmet every time because if I have an accident or fell or I slipped, it would protect me." Miquanus Dorsey, a third grader at Thurston Woods Elementary School says.

Another third grader, chimes in too. "I learned that if you always wear a helmet, you won't have to worry. You're safe," Amari Vinson says.

Some states require kids to wear helmets on bicycles. Wisconsin is not one of them.