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Honourary Artistic Director: Cassandra Kanters
Artist: Derek Beaulieu
Athlete: Arianne Jones

By definition, art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. More often than not, art is assumed to take shape with the strokes of a paintbrush, or the lines of a pencil.

Derek Beaulieu is breaking that mold. Using a dry-transfer lettering technique, he creates an energetic flow of letters that are released from the page to friskily dance across our vision in a way that reflects the speed and texture of 21st century reading. Done in a way that mimics the twists and curves of a luge track, Derek, Cassandra, and Arianne’s helmet reflects the adventure of the sport of luge itself. Using his unique approach, Derek covered Arianne’s helmet with phrases, names, times, and dates that are laden with personal meaning to both Arianne and Cassandra. One date specifically represents the day that Cassandra was airlifted to the Alberta Children’s Hospital by STARS Air Ambulance after landing head first on the frozen ground. What started as an ordinary day playing on the playground ended with Cassandra being diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. Spending time with Arianne has helped Cassandra cope with the constant pain and headaches she deals with on a daily basis.

What you may not know is that the technique of dry-transfer lettering requires the precise application of each letter by hand. Not only was each word, quote, sentence, name and number meticulously thought out, it was transferred onto the helmet letter-by-letter, in an effort to bring inspiration and moments of contemplation to Arianne, and for anyone lucky enough to spend a few minutes in reflective silence with the 21st Century Reading helmet.

When Arianne, Cassandra and Derek first met to brainstorm the helmet design, Arianne was battling through a very serious injury of her own. Earlier in the year, she hurt herself in training, and was sidelined with stress fractures in her spine. During this tough and challenging time, she was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a core group of individuals that had a positive impact on her healing process. When the opportunity arose to be apart of this campaign, Arianne jumped on the opportunity to be a positive mentor for Cassandra and to help share some of her insight with dealing with setbacks.

Interestingly enough, Arianne feels like she learned just as much from getting to know Cassandra as Cassandra learned from her. During the process, it wasn’t uncommon for the two girls to go for ice cream to chat not only about the helmet design, but also the struggles they were both facing with their injuries.

For Arianne, this project means more to her than she may let on. When she climbed onto her sled in Calgary and launched herself onto the track, it was her first race back since fracturing her spine on June 18, 2015. Needless to say, standing on top of the podium signified that her road back to the top was complete.

Derek’s untraditional style may not perfectly fit the art mold, but the ability of the 21st Century Reading helmet to inspire and invoke emotional power surly does.

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About Us

At Helmets for Heroes, we use art therapy to help children battling illness cope and heal. Our projects not only strengthen community, they raise funds and create awareness for charities.