By Jim Misunas
LARNED — It’s official.
Luke Geer, Pawnee Valley Sport and Spine’s physical therapist and rehab manager, officially presented Fort Larned Foundation Director Jennifer Anderson with an oversized $8,000 check that will purchase 40 new Riddell football helmets. The state-of-the-art helmets will provide the best protection available to Larned High School.
Geer, who conducts annual safety meetings with LHS coaches, teamed with Trinette Walker of Pawnee Valley Medical Associates to sponsor a benefit run to pay for new football helmets. Luke Geer credited his wife, Erin, for providing much-needed assistance in organization and publicity.
The Pawnee Valley Medical Campus Benefit Fun Run/Walk raised $7,100 to be donated to the Fort Larned USD 495 athletic fund to purchase new football helmets for the Larned High School Indians. A total of $8,000 was needed to buy the Riddell helmets, used in the NFL.
But on race day Matt Heyn, Pawnee Valley Community Hospital administrator, announced Hays Medical Center will donate the rest of the funds so the $8,000 goal was reached.
Jon Flint, Fort Larned superintendent, appreciated the fund raiser, especially with reduced state funding. He said the partnership with Pawnee Valley entities and the Hays Medical Center is a good business relationship.
“We felt comfortable with the equipment we had and there was a plan to place to replace several helmets every year,” he said. “Now, we’re assured of buying new football helmets for every student. I’m proud of how supportive our community is. They’ve always stepped up and that’s why we’ve raised our family here.”
Dr. David Sanger and the Pawnee Valley Sport & Spine staff provide sports medicine services for the LHS football team. Luke Geer serves as a physical therapist and rehab manager working with outpatient and inpatient physical therapy.
“They took it upon themselves to help us out and Luke Geer helped organize the run,” Flint said. “Now, this will allow us to help our middle school football program too.”
Luke Geer said football helmets must pass a safety inspection each year, but newer helmets simply provide better protection. Geer said there were nine reported incidents of concussions in 2010 at Larned High.
Geer conducts an annual safety meeting with Larned High coaches, including identifying what to look for in possible concussions.
There were 33 participants in the 1-mile race and 53 participants in the 5K race.