An active skateboard helmet program
Summary: The Ian Tilmann Foundation gives away skateboard helmets, but manages to avoid some of the pitfalls of helmet giveaways that do not get the recipients involved enough.
Barry & Marcy Tilmann
The Ian Tilmann Foundation, Inc
We have placed over 2000+ free skateboard helmets with the Foundation's "Helmet for a Promise" program since 2005. We do this in memory of our son Ian who died from a skateboarding accident in 2005. Please check out our website, hear Ian's story and learn how we go about it providing free helmets. Our focus is skateboarding.
We are the only sustainable free helmet program we know of. We fund the program through private donations from corporate sponsors, skate product sponsors, volunteer based fundraising, and of course private donations. We pay for our helmets at best commercial terms with top Skate brands, S-ONE, Bern and ProTec.
The "Promise" concept provides the Skater with a custom ordered helmet. We do not pre-purchase helmets and hand them out. The process to get a helmet requires effort. This "sticky" feature requires the Skater to exert a little effort for the FREE helmet. They fill out a formal registration on our website. This registration is also used at skate events. Skaters turn in (or mail in) the registration completed with a head measurement, brand and color selections. They sign a contract that they promise to wear the helmet when skating in memory of Ian. Our program encourages a sense of ownership with the helmet. Minors are required to have parental consent so MOM and DAD see the Promise. Finally, the Skaters "opt in" to a growing data base of helmet friendly Skater communities throughout the nation. The Foundation's Skater Data Base includes detailed demographics, addresses, email, and of course helmet selection. We also tabulate the type of Skating they do such as Street / Vert / Longboard / Park / Bowl Rider. The data is maintained in EXCEL format.
If a Skater damages the helmet with a fall we will replace the deconstructed helmet. They turn in the helmet, cite the reason for the damage. Out of 1000 helmets, on the street for a year, 18+ helmets have been replaced. 12 were direct head trauma grade impacts requiring a trip to the emergency room, 3 would have been admitted and 1 was serious enough (NICU grade) to be
life-threatening. In all these cases our Skaters walked away...the helmets did the job. We think there are more out there that we never hear about. We have been told by parents that they bought their young Skater a new helmet..and sent us a donation in thanks rather than taking a second helmet. On the other hand we have one Skater that has received 4!!! all of them falls!
Program Needs: December 2009Our goal is to secure competent talent and seek grant funding from DOT, CPSC, CDC to perform a study to show our approach works for the very difficult skateboard segment (who are so resistant to helmet use). We want to demonstrate that our program reduces the social and medical costs of TBI with very modest investment in helmets.
We also want to determine our success in shifting skateboarding culture to be helmet friendly by saturating the local market with free skate helmets. We have placed 500+ helmets in north Pinellas County home to a 1000 plus skaters. We want to demonstrate the shift in the skate culture locally with rigorous evaluation.
We would like a detailed survey of our Skaters to determine helmet use, attitudes shifts, rate of head impacts, etc. We want an evaluation to determine the effectiveness of this program and report out those result to the public.
Do you know of any funding source that could support such an effort?
Barry Tilmann, Vice President/ Co-Founder
This page was revised on: October 13, 2020.