Larry C. Driver, MD, of Houston, was recognized by the Texas House of Representatives on Thursday for launching Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Hard Hats for Little Heads bicycle helmet giveaway program, in honor of two recent milestones. The program reached its 20th year, and TMA exceeded 200,000 free helmets given to Texas children to protect them from head injury.
“I am humbled to accept this recognition on behalf of Texas physicians, medical students and residents, TMA Alliance members, and other volunteers who have contributed over the years to make Hard Hats for Little Heads a success,” said Dr. Driver, who practices at MD Anderson Cancer Center. “This is an example of how Texas physicians care about Texans, especially young Texans. We are all about looking out for their safety.”
Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO, of Gatesville, a TMA member who has sponsored several Hard Hats helmet giveaway events, made the presentation, which declared April 30 as Hard Hats for Little Heads Day.
“Twenty years ago this man brought the idea to TMA to give away helmets free,” said Representative Sheffield after he introduced Dr. Driver. “Since the program began 20 years ago, more than 200,000 helmets have been given — that’s 10,000 heads per year that have been protected from trauma. During Child Safety Month, it is fitting that we raise awareness about head trauma and the importance of wearing a helmet,” he said.
In 1994, Dr. Driver was living in San Angelo when a young neighbor fell off her bike and suffered a concussion. She was not wearing a bicycle helmet. The doctor knew a helmet could have prevented her injury, so he began to create a bike helmet giveaway program whereby he and his physician colleagues could prevent brain injuries in children.
TMA adopted Dr. Driver’s idea, and the Hard Hats for Little Heads program was born. San Angelo physicians, with the help of the local police department, gave away the program’s first 500 helmets.
Through Hard Hats for Little Heads, Texas physicians urge children to be active and to stay safe: The program’s motto is “Get Moving. Stay Safe. Wear a Helmet.” TMA encourages helmet use for all sports on wheels: biking, inline skating, skateboarding, and riding a scooter. Studies have shown that properly worn bike helmets can prevent up to 85 percent of brain injuries. Head injury is the most common cause of death and serious disability from bike crashes.
“How many of you have children?” Representative Sheffield asked House members. “I hope you insist they wear a helmet every time they ride a bike. And that you do the same yourself.”
Hard Hats for Little Heads is made possible through a grant from TMA’s philanthropic arm, the TMA Foundation (TMAF), thanks to top donors — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Prudential, and two anonymous foundations — and gifts from physicians and their families, and friends of medicine.