An estimated 1.7 million people per year sustain a traumatic brain injury in the United States and Truckee, California, based non-profit, High Fives Foundation, wants to help change that statistic.
Founded in 2009, the High Fives Foundation "supports the dreams of outdoor action sports athletes by raising injury prevention awareness while providing resources and inspiration to those who suffer life-altering injuries."
High Five's B.A.S.I.C.S. program, which stands for "Being. Aware. Safe. In. Critical. Situations," is focused on promoting safety and awareness via coaching, education, and presentations and is also behind the eighth Helmets Are Cool film, which is split into five different chapters this year.
The Helmets Are Cool campaign was created with two simple goals in mind: get everyone to wear helmets and spread awareness on safety.
"We obviously don't want these injuries to happen, so this is a great way for us to get the word out and try to prevent injury before people crash," says Becca Lefanowicz, operations and media manager for High Fives Foundation.
Each Thursday in November, High Fives and B.A.S.I.C.S are dropping a new short film that highlights various stories and facts about the importance of wearing a helmet while partaking in sports like skiing.
The five videos in the series feature pro athletes like Connery Lundin and Elyse Saugstad, along with High Five grant recipients like Sally Francklyn and Mike Schwarz. Although the stories of each skier varies, the message remains the same—wearing a helmet is cool and is arguably the most critical piece of gear needed when skiing.
"Just like you need skis, bindings, boots, and poles, you also need a helmet in that quiver for each day," says Roy Tuscany, the founder and CEO of High Fives Foundation. "Skier Michelle Parker said it best when she said, 'If I don't have my ski boots or if I don't have my helmet, I see them as the exact same in terms of what I need to have when I'm the on mountain.'"
Chapter 1 of this year's Helmets Are Cool series featured Sally Francklyn's story. Francklyn, a skier from Colorado, suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling over 1,000 feet down a couloir in 2012. Thankfully, Francklyn was wearing a helmet, which doctors credit for saving her life.
In Chapter 2, athletes Julia Mancuso, Jeremy Jones, and Connery Lundin partner with POC to unpack the importance of wearing a helmet and the science that goes into creating the best piece of equipment to keep you safe.
Chapter 3 of the series features skier Jamie Crane-Mauzy, who was the first woman to do a double backflip on skis in a competition. Unfortunately, Crane-Mauzy crashed in 2015 and suffered a traumatic brain injury, but her life was thankfully saved thanks to her helmet. Kody Williams, a snowboarder who suffered a traumatic brain injury, is also featured in the episode.
The Tahoe Forest Health System, which provides concussion research, treatment, and recovery, is featured in Chapter 4, which will be released November 22.
The Helmets Are Cool series concludes with Mike Schwarz's story. Schwarz suffered an injury in 2006 during a halfpipe competition that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Now a leader with B.A.S.I.C.S, Schwarz travels through his home state of Vermont discussing his injury and the importance of wearing a helmet with children.
Tuscany hopes that each video will resonate with skiers and snowboarders alike and shed light on the importance of protecting yourself—along with the ones who love you, as well—by wearing a helmet.
"We hope that other people can understand that it can happen to anyone, at any time. The stories we share are from individuals who were wearing a helmet at the time of their accident and that's the reason that they are still alive today," says Tuscany. "Fluke accidents happen. But there's one thing you can do to help prevent having a tragic result and that's wearing a helmet."