Helmets for Heroes – Put a Lid On It!
In 2014 Chris worked with Olympians Brad Spence (alpine skiing) and Sam Edney (luge), to create a national media strategy to launch Helmets for Heroes – a special project Spence conceived two years ago when he met Calgary Osteosarcoma patient Gillian O’Blenes-Kaufman during a community outreach visit to the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Recognizing her incredible artistic talent, Spence asked O’Blenes-Kaufman to design and paint the helmet he wore to compete at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Sadly, O’Blenes-Kaufman lost her battle with cancer on Monday evening. Edney, a three-time Olympian himself, was the second in what Spence hopes to be a long list of Canada’s high-performance athletes to take part in Helmets for Heroes. “I looked at my friends from different Olympic sports and I realized all of their helmets are blank canvases that could tell powerful stories, and also better connect an athlete with the community,” said Spence prior to the program’s launch. The original mission was to launch the Helmets for Heroes Foundation with the goal of raising money for children battling life-threatening diseases while also generating awareness for helmet safety. Edney worked with Richard Flamenco – a young artist who was diagnosed with Epidermolysis Bullosa, which causes painful blistering of the skin. Flamenco has spent the majority of his life at the Alberta Children’s Hospital where he receives treatment focused on addressing the symptoms of this incurable disease. It was through the Hospital’s art program that Flamenco discovered his artistic talents. Chris guided Spence, Edney and Flamenco through a national media launch just days before the Luge World Cup in Calgary. With significant media attention already garnered, Edney became the first Canadian male to win a World Cup luge race – and Flamenco was a the finish line to witness it. Building on this successful program, Chris reconnected the Canadian Luge Team with Spence and a team of young children and Calgary-based artists this fall to launch a new campaign – #PutALidOnIt
2016 Helmet Campaign
The seven members of the Canadian Luge Team had the helmets they will wear for the World Cup season designed and painted as part of a brain injury prevention awareness campaign. From John Fennell’s flying reptiles to Alex Gough’s sugar skull on the front that runs back into an MRI of a brain and a maple leaf to Arianne Jones’ inspirational word art, to Mitch Malyk’s Canadian northern light space art, to Tristan Walker’s red and black maple leafs to Justin Snith’s winter motif, and Kim McRae’s colourful sunset and horses, each helmet delivers a powerful message and story unique to the athlete and child. The luge squad wore the specially-designed helmets in a series of powerful videos that rolled out throughout 2016 in an effort to encourage Canadians to put a lid on brain injuries. “As luge athletes, we understand the inherent risks associated with our sport, and the need to wear a helmet, train properly, and make smart choices in order to minimize those risks. We believe as Olympians we have a voice to educate Canadians on this important issue, and ultimately help put a lid on brain injuries in everyday life by encouraging people to wear a helmet and make smart choices,” said Alex Gough. The campaign generated significant national media coverage, funds for Helmets for Heroes and engaged Luge Canada with the corporate community.