It could just as easily be called Helmets From Heroes.
Because to luge racer Sam Edney, that’s precisely what Richard Flamenco is. Not a sports-front banner headline hero. Not a top-of-the-podium, bombing-down-the-track-at-140-km/h World Cup hero.
But a hero nonetheless.
Athlete: Sam Edney (twitter: @samueledney)
Artist: Kelsey Fraser (instagram: kelsfraser)
Child: Richard Flamenco
“The inspiration this helmet is going to give me on my runs this weekend … it’s something I can’t explain,” says Edney, the three-time Olympian, looking ahead to Saturday’s World Cup race at Canada Olympic Park. “I put the helmet on and literally feel this power that overcomes me.
“It’s going to be really cool. This is so much more than just showing a helmet off and getting to wear it in a race. This is about the experiences I’ve had with Richard, hearing about the battles he’s had in his life and knowing that he’s spent the majority of his life in a hospital, not doing the things he wanted to do. He wanted to be an athlete. He wanted to go out and spend time with his friends.
“Things I get to do on a daily basic.
“You see his courage, his strength.
“He’s an amazing young man.’’
Flamenco, who suffers from Epidermolysis Bullosa, an incurable disease causing a painful blistering of the skin, has called The Children’s Hospital home for most of his life.
Other images were discussed. A city skyline motif, seeing as how all three principals in the endeavour are Calgarians. A sea otter, one of Edney’s favorites among the animal kingdom.
“I’ve never seen sea otters much,’’ says Richard. “So I looked up pictures. And … well … The bear really stood out more than a cute, cuddly sea otter. I thought more of a vicious, beware-of-my-bear helmet would be better.
“My first reaction to this was ‘What? I’m designing what?’ When I first heard of the Helmets for Heroes project I was really excited. I’ve done art shows in the Children’s Hospital before to help raise money but for this big event, I was very nervous. I didn’t want to mess it up.
“From Richard, from Kelsey, the hard work that went into this helmet is special,’’ he says. “When I put it on it immediately hits me how lucky I am. This is something I now get to share with Richard.
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Note: Excepts from the above story can be found in the original article published in the Calgary Herald.
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