ACAD Faculty and students part of Helmet for Heroes National Luge Team Helmet Unveiling Today

Photo: Faculty Derek Beaulieu's work in progress design for Helmets for Heroes – to be worn by Canadian National Luge Team member Arianne Jones the finished helmet will be revealed on December 15th.

When Brad Spence, founder of Helmets for Heroes, competed at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, he was wearing a hand painted helmet by Gillian O’Blenes-Kaufman, a young patient at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. During a hospital visit a few months prior, Brad had learned of Gillian’s incredible artistic talents and wanted to bring her on his journey to Sochi. He did so by having her design and paint his Olympic helmet. Gillian had attended her first semester at ACAD before she passed away late in 2014, her family was presented with an honorary degree in May, 2015.

Seeing the impact that his helmet had not only on her, but also on the entire community, Brad wanted to find a way to bring the athletic and artistic worlds together, to support and help children battling adversity cope and heal. What evolved was Helmets for Heroes, an initiative aimed at doing just this. For each project, an athlete, an artist, and a child battling adversity are connected to collaborate on a helmet design that will be worn in competition by the athlete. Art not only helps children battling adversity express themselves, it improves their mood, decreases pain levels, and assists in the healing process. After completion of the projects, the helmets are auctioned off, with proceeds being donated to the charity of the child’s choice. To date, Helmets for Heroes has facilitated five very unique projects, raising more than $30,000 for charity.

Brad is excited about the distinct Calgary arts community connection for this project. 

"When we put out a call to the Calgary arts community looking for artists to volunteer with designing and painting the helmets alongside the athletes and concussion patients, we were overwhelmed by the support and generosity of ACAD and their community. Within days, we had a mix of students, alumni, and even one member of faculty that stepped up to help us create these memorable experiences for the patients. At Helmets for Heroes, we are constantly humbled by the generosity and ambition of the community around us, and the support of ACAD is a continued reminder that people are willing to lend a hand (and their incredible artistic talents) to those in need."

Seven members of the national luge squad will address the media today with a group of inspiring young children from the Calgary community who have suffered brain injuries along with a group of artists who have helped specially-design the team's helmets this year that will be a constant reminder of the importance of helmet use when playing. MORE.>>