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First Niagara Bank and Sean’s Run Offering Grants

October 22, 2009 — First Niagara Bank and the organizers of Sean’s Run have announced the availability of cash grants for youth organizations and schools to implement the fun and fast paced Battle of the Belts, a youth activity designed to increase teens’ and ‘tweens use of seatbelts. The grants are made possible through First Niagara Bank’s sponsorship of Sean’s Run. 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 HYPERLINK "" Applications are due by December 1, 2009.

First Niagara is the Presenting Sponsor of Sean’s Run, an annual event that focuses on the problems of underage drinking, impaired driving and teens’ lax use of seat belts. Held the last Sunday of April at Chatham High School, the event attracted 1,371 participants last year in the 5K and Meghan’s Mile. 20 schools and youth groups participated in the World Championship Battle of the Belts. Sean’s Run also includes a tribute to victims and survivors of drunk driving and a Prevention Education Expo.

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. Sean’s Run and 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 our 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.”

$120,500 has been contributed as grants and scholarships by Sean’s Run over the past 8 years thanks to generous sponsors and contributors. 81 programs that encourage safe driving have received grants from Sean’s Run and 58 college bound high school seniors have been awarded scholarships since the first event in 2002.

Jeff French, Chairman of Sean’s Run, said “Thanks to First Niagara we are able to again offer this opportunity and an innovative approach to reduce the number of teens who fail to use their seatbelts.”

The Battle of the Belts seatbelt buckling contest involves teams of four teens or ‘tweens who run to a 4-door car and quickly get into their seats. They all buckle up, raise 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.

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. 





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