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First Niagara Awards Sean’s Run Grants

February 6, 2009 - First Niagara Bank Foundation and the organizers of Sean’s Run recently announced the names of the schools and youth organizations to be awarded $500 grants to implement the Battle of the Belts, a fun and fast moving activity designed by the Sean’s Run Organizing Committee to increase teens’ use of seatbelts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the number one cause of death for teens and nearly 2/3 of those who perish were not using safety belts.

First Niagara Bank Eastern Region President, Thomas Amell, presents $10,000 to the organizers of Sean’s Run. The funds from the Bank are used to award grants to schools, organizations and youth groups in the region to implement programs designed at increasing teenagers’ use of seat belts. First Niagara Bank has been the Presenting Sponsor of Sean’s Run for the past five years.

First Niagara Bank 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 programs at schools and youth organizations selected through a competitive application process. Schools and youth groups in 9-counties surrounding Columbia County were sent invitations in September to apply for funding.

Winners include the following: In Columbia County – the Hudson City Department of Youth, Taconic Hills, Reality Check of Columbia and Greene Counties, Chatham High and Chatham Middle Schools. In Albany County - Berne Knox Westerlo High School. In Rensselaer County – Berlin and Hoosick Falls High Schools. In Schenectady County – Mohonasen High School. In Dutchess County – Pine Plains High School and the Dutchess County Council on Addition Prevention and Education. In Delaware County – Charlotte Valley High School. In Montgomery County – Amsterdam High School, Lynch Literacy Academy and Fonda-Fultonville High School. In Ulster County – Mt. Marion school.

In addition, $500 grants will be awarded to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) and Choices 301, to support projects aimed at combating underage drinking and impaired driving.

Over the past six years, the money raised at Sean’s Run has been donated to support 75 programs. In addition, funds raised at Sean’s Run have supported college scholarships to 48 young people.

Thomas Amell, Eastern New York Regional President for First Niagara in announcing the grants program noted, “The Battle of the Belts is a great way to reach young people and underscore the importance of always using seatbelts. First Niagara Bank Foundation is the Presenting Sponsor of Sean’s Run because we believe that investing in the safety of our teens because it is the right thing to do.”

The eighth annual Sean’s Run, scheduled for Sunday, April 26, 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.

The New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee has recognized Sean’s Run as an innovative approach to addressing the problem of teens’ failure to use seatbelts.

Jeff French, Chairman of Sean’s Run, said “First Niagara Bank makes it possible for us to provide seed money that encourages schools and youth groups to try this innovative activity to reduce the number of teens who 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.

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





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