Honda Honored for helping save Teens’ Lives
Troy, December 6, 2006 - Rensselaer Honda, located
at 770 Hoosick Road in Troy, was recently honored for its work in
helping commence an innovative program – the Battle of the
Belts – at schools and youth organizations across the capital
district to increase teens’ use of seatbelts. According to
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes
are the number one cause of teenage fatalities and nearly 2/3 of
those killed were not wearing seatbelts.
“Unfortunately, these numbers represent more
than a startling statistic, they are comprised of young people with
names, like 17-year old Sean French who was killed, and his buddy
Ian Moore who is now paralyzed,” said Andrew James, General
Manager of the Honda dealership. Both teens were riding unbuckled
in a car crashed by an intoxicated schoolmate in Chatham, Columbia
County, on January 1, 2002. In November the Columbia County Board
of Supervisors presented Rensselaer Honda with a citation in recognition
of their sponsorship.
“We want to do something to change teens’
behaviors, that’s why Rensselaer Honda joined with the organizers
of Sean’s Run to sponsor the Battle of the Belts. We’re
part of a wonderful collaboration of law enforcement officials,
government agencies, schools, youth groups and an energetic committee
of volunteers, all working to keep kids safe.”
Members of the World Champion Team, The Little
Walnuts from Berne-Knox Westerlo SADD join Mark French of Sean’s
Run in making a presentation to Andrew James of Rensselaer Honda,
sponsor of the Battle of the Belts. L-R: Danielle Willsey, Alisha
VanDyke, Tara Cummings, SADD Advisor, Andrew James, Mark French,
Ada Lauderbach, Lauren Ford and Shannon James, SADD Advisor.
Sean’s Run, produced in Chatham, is a community
event designed to increase awareness about the dangers of underage
drinking, impaired driving and teens’ lax use of seatbelt.
The event has attracted over 4,000 participants in the last five
years from throughout the northeast and includes a 5K and one mile
race, a Tribute to Victims and Survivors of Drunk Driving, a Prevention
Education Expo and the World Championship Battle of the Belts sponsored
by Rensselaer Honda. All proceeds are given as grants to schools
to implement programs that increase seatbelt use and decrease underage
drinking and impaired driving.
Last winter Rensselaer Honda and the organizers of
Sean’s Run designed and began promoting the Battle of the
Belts seatbelt buckling contest as a fun way to encourage teens
to always use seatbelts. The Committee traveled across the region
to introduce the event to schools and youth organizations by meeting
with SADD advisors, youth bureaus, STOP DWI coordinators, police
agencies and substance abuse service providers in 10-counties. Last
April, twenty five schools and youth organizations registered teams
to compete in the World Championship Battle of the Belts including
Berlin and Hoosic Falls high schools from Rensselaer County.
The Sean’s Run organizers now hope the event
will become an annual activity for schools and youth groups across
the state. Using funding provided by Rensselaer Honda they recently
produced and distributed a “how-to” DVD and written
guidelines to assist schools and youth groups plan and implement
a Battle of the Belts.
The Battle is a competition between teams comprised
of four teenagers. At the start signal, a team runs to a car from
a starting line 25 feet from the rear bumper. All jump in and quickly
buckle up. When all four team members are buckled, an official,
usually a Police Officer, tells the team to “rotate”.
They unbuckle, jump out and run clockwise around the car to the
next seat and buckle up again. The process is repeated until all
four team members have been buckled four times when time is taken.
The fastest teams are invited to Sean’s Run to participate
in the World Championship.
The 2006 World Champions are from the SADD (Students
Against Destructive Decisions) Chapter at Berne-Knox Westerlo High
School, Albany County. Like several other SADD advisors around the
region, SADD Advisor Shannon Foley organized a preliminary Battle
of the Belts at her high school to determine which group of students
would represent their school at the World Championship. The fastest
team, a group of four girls, now all seniors, won the local event
and traveled to Chatham to compete and went on to win the World
Championship title. The team is comprised of Lauren Ford, Ada Lauderbach,
Alisha VanDyke and Danielle Willsey.
“We had fun planning and producing our own Battle
at B-KW high school; the kids really got into it and formed teams,”
said Lauren Ford. “Some of the junior boys thought they could
do it fastest, but we won and got to go to the World Championship.
We practiced more, had fun at Sean’s Run and in the end brought
home the World Championship award!”
The sixth annual Sean’s Run, and the second
annual World Championship Battle of the Belts is slated for April
29th at Chatham High School. More information is available by contacting
Jeff French, general chairmen, at 672-4757 or visiting www.SeansRun.com.