First Niagara Bank and Sean’s Run Offering
November 1, 2008 — Youth organizations
and schools are invited to apply for cash grants from First Niagara
Bank Foundation and the organizers of Sean’s Run to implement
a fun and fast moving activity, the Battle of the Belts, that is
designed to increase teens’ and ‘tweens use of seatbelts.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
car crashes are the number one cause of death for teens; nearly
2/3 of those who perish were not using safety belts.
School groups and youth organizations such as Scouts,
4-H, church groups and sports teams, may apply for up to $500 each
to implement a Battle of the Belts seatbelt buckling contest and
send teams to participate in the World Championship Battle of the
Belts at Sean’s Run next April. Instructions for youth groups
and schools to submit a one-page application are available at www.SeansRun.com.
Applications are due by December 1, 2008.
First Niagara is the Presenting Sponsor of Sean’s
Run, an annual community event that focuses on the problems of underage
drinking, impaired driving and teens’ lax use of seat belts.
Held the last Sunday of April each spring at Chatham High School,
the event attracts hundreds of participants from all over and includes
a 5K and a one mile run/walk dubbed Meghan’s Mile. Also included
are a tribute to victims and survivors of drunk driving, a Prevention
Education Expo and the World Championship Battle of the Belts seat
belt buckling contest for teens.
$106,000 has been contributed as grants and scholarships
by Sean’s Run over the past 7 years thanks to generous sponsors
and contributors. 65 programs that encourage safe driving have received
grants from Sean’s Run and 48 college bound high school seniors
have been awarded scholarships since the first event in 2002.
Thomas Amell, Eastern New York Regional President
for First Niagara in announcing the grants program noted, “First
Niagara maintains a strong commitment to the communities in which
we live and work: The Battle of the Belts is a great way to reach
young people and underscore the importance of always using seatbelts.
As Presenting Sponsor, First Niagara Bank continues its support
of youth not only through our statewide mentoring program, but also
efforts such as Sean’s Run. We are happy to be Presenting
Sponsor because we believe that investing in the safety and well
being of our youth makes good sense.”
Last fall the New York State Governor’s Traffic
Safety Committee invited the Sean’s Run organizers to present
a workshop about the Battle of the Belts during the State’s
annual traffic safety conference in Lake Placid. County Traffic
Safety Boards, STOP DWI Coordinators and police agencies from around
the state attended the conference.
When the Battle begins, teams take turns buckling
up. At the start, a team of four teenagers runs to a 4-door car
and they jump in. They all buckle up, throw their hands in the air
and a Referee shouts "Rotate!" They unbuckle, get out,
run clockwise to the next seat, get in, and buckle up again. The
team with the fastest time, after the 4th buckle, is declared the
winner. There are awards for the fastest teams, for teams with the
loudest cheering sections, best t-shirts and best team names. The
Buckle-Up Bettys is a favorite of the Organizing Committee.
Jeff French, Chairman of Sean’s Run, said
“With the generous support of First Niagara we are able to
encourage this innovative activity that aims to reduce the number
of teens who fail to use their seatbelts. Our goal is to also lower
the numbers of young people who consume alcohol, ride with an impaired
driver or drink and drive.”
Sean’s Run was founded in 2002 following
the tragic death of Sean Patrick French, a 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. 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.