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First Niagara Awards Sean’s Run Grants

Chatham, February 2 - First Niagara Bank and the organizers of Sean’s Run will award $500 grants to 14 groups, including schools, youth groups and regional organizations, to implement programs designed to combat underage drinking, impaired driving and teens’ lax use of seatbelts.  The schools and youth groups will use their funding 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. 

First Niagara Bank is the Presenting Sponsor of Sean’s Run, an annual community run/walk to be held at Chatham High School on Sunday, May 1st.  The event’s organizing committee is preparing for 1,500 participants in the 5K and 1 Mile events. 

The Register Star and Chatham Courier are Media Sponsors of Sean’s Run.

The money raised at Sean’s Run from sponsorships, contributions and participant entry fees is invested in programs at schools and youth organizations selected through a competitive application process.   Schools and youth groups had until December 1st to apply for the funding.

Tom Amell, Eastern Region President of First Niagara Bank, in announcing the grants stated, “First Niagara is proud to be closely aligned with Sean’s Run for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, we believe that this outstanding effort is absolutely having a positive impact in our community and we are very confident that because of this effort, lives are being saved.  We are equally proud to align First Niagara with the French family and proud that they are having such a meaningful influence in our community.”

Car crashes, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are the leading cause of death for teens.  The statistics are alarming - in 2009, eight teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries. The Center for Injury Research and Prevention has found that nearly 2/3 of those who perish were not using safety belts. 

Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).  Alcohol consumption greatly increases the likelihood that teens will forego use of seatbelts; nearly three out of every four teen drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes after drinking and driving were not wearing a seat belt. (CDC)

Those awarded grants include: In Columbia County – Hudson City Department of Youth, Chatham High and Chatham Middle Schools. In Rensselaer County – Averill Park, Berlin, and Hoosick Falls High Schools and the Schodack/Castleton Community Partnership.  In Schenectady County – Mohonasen High School.  In Dutchess County – Pine Plains Stissing Mountain High School and the Dutchess County Council on Addition Prevention and Education.  In Montgomery County – Lynch Literacy Academy and Fonda-Fultonville High School.

In addition, $500 grants will be awarded to two regional organizations dedicated to combating underage drinking and impaired driving.  These include Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) of Schenectady County and Choices 301 of Albany County.

Jeff French, Chairman of Sean’s Run, said “First Niagara’s sponsorship makes this grant making program possible.  Thanks to their generosity we can offer the funding to encourage schools and youth groups to implement the Battle of the Belts as an innovative activity to reduce the number of teens who fail to use their seatbelts.”

Over the past eight years, Sean’s Run has awarded 98 grants to schools and youth groups.

In addition to the 5K and 1 Mile run/walk, the 10th Annual Sean’s Run will include 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.  Also, on Saturday, April 30th, the Committee will host the second annual Sea Jem’s Super Saturday Run for Special Needs Kids, a group run for children living with developmental and physical disabilities.

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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