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First Niagara Awards Sean’s Run Grants

March 23, 2007 – First Niagara Bank and the organizers of Sean’s Run announced today the names of the schools and organization selected to be awarded cash grants to support creative school-based programs that address the problems of underage drinking, impaired driving and teens’ lax use of seatbelts.

First Niagara is the Presenting Sponsor of Sean’s Run, the annual community event held at Chatham High School that attracts hundreds of participants from throughout the region on the last Sunday of April. The money raised at Sean’s Run is invested in year-round programs at schools and youth organizations selected through a competitive application process. Schools in a 10-county region were invited in September to apply for funding.

Winners include the following high schools: Taconic Hills and Chatham in Columbia County, Guilderland and Berne Knox Westerlo in Albany County, Berlin, Averill Park and Hoosick Falls in Rensselaer County, Scotia Glenville in Schenectady County. Also MADD of the Capital District has been awarded a grant.

Over the past four years, the money raised at Sean’s Run has supported 38 programs, totaling $26,900. In the past, schools in Washington, Saratoga, Fulton and Berkshire Counties have also been awarded grants.

First Niagara’s Thomas L. Amell, the bank’s Eastern New York Regional President, noted, “First Niagara is the Presenting Sponsor of Sean’s Run because encouraging young people to make safe choices when it comes to driving is important business.”

The sixth annual Sean’s Run, scheduled for Sunday, April 29, will include a 5K and 1 Mile run/walk, a Prevention Educational Expo, a Tribute to Victims and Survivors of drunken driving, and the World Championship Battle of the Belts interscholastic seatbelt bucking contest.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of teen deaths. 38% of the fatalities involve alcohol and nearly 2/3 of all teens that perish in car crashes were not using seat belts.

Jeff French, Chairman of Sean’s Run, said “First Niagara Bank makes it possible for us to provide seed money that encourages schools to try innovative activities to reduce the number of teens who consume alcohol, ride with an impaired driver, drink and drive, or fail to use their seatbelts.”

Sean’s Run and the grants program were established in response to the tragic death of Sean Patrick French, the 17-year old Chatham High School junior, honor roll student, community volunteer and record-setting athlete who was killed on January 1, 2002, as a passenger on a drunk-driving car crash. Another passenger, 17-year old Ian Moore, sustained paralyzing injuries. The driver, a 17-year old, had previously been arrested for drunk driving just 18 days prior to the fatal crash.

This tragedy prompted the enactment of Sean’s Law on January 1, 2003 that requires the suspension of a license upon the first arrest of a 16 or 17 year old on drunken driving charges.

More information is available at or by calling Jeff French at 672-4757.




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