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City, foundation partner to offer free helmets at park

Skaters, cyclists can pick out their own headgear.

By Lorri Helfand, Times Staff Writer
Published February 20, 2008


The city's skate park will soon provide free helmets to skaters and cyclists who need protective headgear.

At Tuesday's meeting, city commissioners unanimously approved a partnership with the Ian Tilmann Foundation to provide free helmets to patrons of the skate park at Highland Recreation Complex.

"This is about kids. This is about health. This is about their safety," said Commissioner Rodney Woods.

Marcy and Barry Tilmann formed a nonprofit foundation to give away helmets after their son Ian died in a skateboarding accident three year years ago. Ian, 28, lost control while skating on Hercules Avenue in Clearwater and tumbled headfirst onto the road.

Barry Tilmann said Tuesday that at least half of the funding for the project will come from skate events. He hopes community sponsors will step up to help out, too, he said.

The city expects to contribute about $500 or less for startup items, such as banners or decals.

The city hopes to kick off the program within a month, said Mary Nolen, assistant director of the Recreation, Parks and Arts Department.

Patrons, who make a pledge to wear the helmets when engaging in extreme sports, can pick out the color and style of their new headgear. Helmets would be delivered within six to eight weeks, Tilmann said.

"If you have cool helmets, the kids will put them on," said Tilmann, showing off a helmet decorated with graffiti after leaving the meeting.

The Tilmanns approached the city to set up a program around the time the city made efforts to beef up safety at the skate park and enforce a rule that requires patrons to wear helmets.

Tilmann said he hopes to distribute helmets at seven Tampa Bay area skate parks. So far, the foundation has given away about 1,200 helmets.

[Last modified February 19, 2008, 22:04:46]

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