Live Like Line: The Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa is giving away free helmets for ‘The Miracle Season’ premiere

Helmet Giveaway and Fitting

The Live Like Line bench (outside of Formosa) — Sunday, April 8, 12-4 p.m.

The Miracle Season premiere

FilmScene — Friday, April 6 at 1 p.m.

Live Like Line
Even as the downtown Benchmarks change every year, the Live Like Line bench is preserved in memoriam. — photo by Tim Taranto

The Miracle Season is a redemption tale, following a high school volleyball team’s unlikely state championship victory following the loss of their team captain. Of course, it’s based on real Iowa City West High athletes and coaches, a real victory and a real tragedy: the death of Caroline Found, who lost control of her moped and struck a tree on Mormon Trek Boulevard on Aug. 11, 2011. She was not wearing a helmet, and died instantly.

Jen Knights, director of development for the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa (BIAIA), attended the Hometown Screening of The Miracle Season on March 18.

“When I watched that scene of her driving away on her scooter saying, ‘This is going to be our year,’ and her hair’s blowing in the wind, I’m just like, ‘Oh, my God, put a helmet on that kid.’ You see it around town all the time, these young people with bare heads,” Knights said. “That moment when the police officers show up on Ernie’s doorstep to tell him that his daughter had died, I think that’s going to resonate with everybody. You think about what could have been done to prevent it.”

Collaborations between Caroline Found’s loved ones and local organizations have produced several outreach efforts in the past seven years, one taking place Sunday, April 8 by the Live Like Line bench in the Iowa City Pedestrian Mall (the bench, which uses Caroline’s nickname “Line,” is between Formosa and the Iowa City Public Library). Representatives of the BIAIA will be giving away around 50 bicycle helmets, donated by Safe Kids Iowa. From noon to 4 p.m., any interested adults or children (first come, first served) may take home a helmet. BIAI’s experts will also provide free helmet fittings and hand out coupons from Moped U for moped and scooter helmets.

“We’re trying to do our best to make sure it’s easy for everyone,” Knights said. “Is it in the proper placement on the forehead? Is it strapped properly around your ears? Is it tight enough? Is it too tight? We just want to get helmets on heads and make sure people are wearing them right.”

The event is co-sponsored by FilmScene, where the giveaway and fittings will take place in the event of rain. The Miracle Season premieres at FilmScene — and theaters nationwide — on April 6. FilmScene will being donating a portion of the ticket sales for the film to BIAIA.

Though the manner of Caroline Found’s death is not central to the plot of The Miracle Season, Caroline’s friends or family have not let it be forgotten. It has motivated them to team up with BIAIA to push for a state law requiring minors to wear helmets on bikes, mopeds, scooters and motorcycles, nicknamed “Line’s Law.”

“It’s probably painful for them to continue to think about the fact they lost this beautiful, beloved person in their lives. But that’s going to happen every day no matter what,” Knights said. “When they use this tragedy to help prevent another family’s tragedy, it actually makes it more possible for them to move forward, I think.”

Knights said the partnership between the Found family and BIAIA began when Caroline’s sister Catherine Found met the BIAIA executive director at the Iowa City Downtown District’s Farm to Family Dinner, and the two talked about Caroline and the brain injury accidents Catherine had witnessed as an EMT.

Knights said Ernie Found and former West High volleyball coach Kathy Bresnahan helped brainstorm the April 8 helmet giveaway and fitting, hoping to make the premiere of The Miracle Season as meaningful as possible.

It’s not known for sure if a helmet would have saved Caroline’s life, but rather than dwelling on “what if?” questions, Knights said BIAIA and Live Like Line advocates are focused on the facts.

“It’s the single most important thing that you can do to prevent death and disability when you’re riding,” she said. “Iowa’s only one of three states that doesn’t have any helmet law. One of three. We’re trying to catch up with the rest of the country, at least for children.”

“Having a law, in general, it just takes the responsibility off of the parent to make their kid do this thing that’s not cool. Even for adult riders, when it’s required, it takes the responsibility off of you to be the uncool one. We all wear seatbelts now because they told us we have to. We don’t want to get a ticket; it’s the law. We want helmet wearing to be the same thing.”

A group of Caroline’s friends formed the group Hope for a Helmet in 2011 and continue their support for Line’s Law.

Former University of Iowa women’s basketball player Ally Disterhoft, an old friend of Caroline’s, and coach Lisa Bluder, whose husband suffered a brain injury after being struck by a car nearly two decades ago, have advocated for Line’s Law as well. Bluder has long enforced a rule requiring UI women’s basketball team members to wear helmets on bikes, mopeds and scooters.

“This is our way of honoring Caroline’s memory and trying to prevent this tragedy from happening to another family or another volleyball team or another group of friends or another school,” Knights said of the BIAIA’s outreach efforts. “We just want to make sure people know how to protect themselves.”

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