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First Niagara Bank and Sean’s Run Offering Grants

October 5, 2010  - 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’ 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 the 10th Annual Sean’s Run next May 1st at Chatham High School.

Instructions for youth groups and schools to submit a one-page application are available at www.SeansRun.com.  Applications are due by December 1, 2010.

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. Last spring the event attracted 1,462 participants in the 5K and Meghan’s Mile. 24 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.

Sean’s Run became a two-day event in 2010 and the first run/walk in the region to offer a special component for kids with disabilities, dubbed “Sea Jem’s Super Saturday Run for Kids with Special Needs.”   22 young people with various disabilities participated.

$138,050 has been contributed as grants and scholarships by Sean’s Run over the past 9 years thanks to generous sponsors and contributors. 100 programs that encourage safe driving have received grants from Sean’s Run and 68 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 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 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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