When Brad Spence, founder of Helmets for Heroes, competed at the Olympics last February in Sochi, he was wearing a helmet hand painted by Gillian O'Blenes-Kaufman, a young patient at the Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary, Canada. During a hospital visit a few months prior, he had learned of Gillian's incredible artistic talents and wanted to bring her on his journey to Sochi. He did so by asking her to design and paint his Olympic helmet.
Seeing the impact that that helmet had not only on her, but on himself and the entire community, Brad made it his mission to pay it forward: He wanted to find a way to bring the athletic and artistic worlds together, to help inspire and provide hope for children battling illness. What evolved was Helmets for Heroes, which is a non-profit initiative aimed at doing just this. For each of our projects, we connect an athlete, an artist, and a child battling illness to collaborate on a helmet design that will be worn in competition by the athlete. Our focus is to provide the children battling illness with the opportunity to dream big, set positive, long-term goals, and to share their stories with the world.
After each of our projects are complete, we auction off the helmets, donating proceeds to the charity of the child's choice, and turn the unique artistic designs into apparel that people from the far corners of the earth can enjoy. However, what we are selling isn't just apparel, it is hope and inspiration for children around the globe battling illnesses. The designs you see on our first apparel line are hand drawn zen-doodles from Gillian's sketch book - a reminder to stay positive, to persevere, and to be courageous during difficult times.
More projects are currently in the works. Follow us on Twitter @Helmets_4Heroes or Instagram @Helmets4Heroes to stay up to date.