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Passing on bike safety

September 18, 2012
Emily Siegmon - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ALPENA - Besser Elementary School fourth grade teacher Gretchen Rea organized a bike assembly on Tuesday, marking the one-year anniversary of her son's bike accident that occurred in their driveway. She said her goal was to put a "positive spin on the date" and help save families from experiencing what they went through.

"Last year Jack was riding his bike in our driveway without a helmet, he flipped and fell in our driveway. He got a bleed on the brain, and ended up in Covenant Hospital Intensive Care Unit for three days," Gretchen Rea said. "He missed an entire month of school ... It's so important to wear a helmet not just on long bike rides, but anywhere."

In order to associate something positive with Jack Rea's accident anniversary, Gretchen Rea invited Officer Timothy Marquardt, DARE/community services, to present information on bike safety during a school assembly.

Article Photos

News Photo by Emily Siegmon
Officer Timothy Marquardt and third graders Jack Rea, right, and Noah Marquardt demonstrate how to properly wear and fit a helmet during Tuesday’s bike safety assembly at Besser Elementary School.

Along with Timothy Marquardt, who highlighted information on bike safety and gave away helmets to students, third graders Jack Rea and Noah Marquardt demonstrated how to properly fit a helmet and how to ride bikes safely and cautiously.

"Student safety is extremely important, at home and at school. The last thing we'd want is a tragedy," Principal Eric Cardwell said.

The assembly ended with a raffle opportunity for helmet giveways. Besser students who already own helmets allowed students without one to take their prize. Gretchen Rea said that was one of the most touching aspects of the assembly and thought it was great to see kids who really needed helmets get them.

"I thought the assembly went good ... I remember my brain injury from when I fell. I got a bruise on my brain, but now I wear a helmet all the time," Jack Rea said.

According to Gretchen Rea, one of the best ways a parent can help children learn safe bike riding is to set a good example themselves, by following road rules and wearing helmets.

"Sometimes we think, 'I didn't wear a helmet when I was young and nothing happened to me.' We used to think that, too, but an accident can happen anywhere at any time. It's better to be safe," Gretchen Rea said.

Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5687.



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