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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.

Richard Flamenco works on the Be Fierce Golden Bear design

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.’’

Sam Edney wears the striking specially-designed helmet fashioned into a bear image — created by 19-year-old Flamenco and local artist Kelsey Fraser — for this one World Cup stop, at home, before it’s auctioned off to raise funds for the Children’s Hospital

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.

To know that this helmet is going to be seen around the world is amazing. To see it going down the luge track will be very exciting.’’ ~ Richard Flamenco

“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.

“The one thing I remember most, being at his house, I was watching him meticulously paint the helmet. Stroke by stroke. That was something that filled me with something … I can’t describe. It’s going to be an emotional weekend but it’s going to be a very powerful weekend.’’ ~ Sam Edney

“It’s one race. At home. They (painted) it gold. So hopefully that’s a foreshadowing. I feel like I’m unstoppable when I have this helmet on.

For the full story, watch the video below...

Note: Excepts from the above story can be found in the original article published in the Calgary Herald.
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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.