|The Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition Reflects on a Successful Year of Saving Lives|
More than 150 Safe Kids coalition members joined representatives from All Children's Hospital and safety officials, supporters, sponsors, donors and community partners attended the 21st Annual Suncoast Safe Kids Recognition Luncheon and Awards Ceremony on June 18 to celebrate the success of helping keep kids safe during the past year.
Jim Millican, District Chief for the Lealman Fire District and Suncoast Safe Kids executive chair, told the audience that Safe Kids could not impact the community without the dedicated support of members who attend meetings and numerous community events.
"We know that prevention makes a difference," said Cindy Rose, All Children's Vice President of Marketing and Community Relations. "All Children's is proud to be the lead organization for Safe Kids. I want to thank each and every one of you for being part of the Safe Kids Coalition. I also want to thank the member organizations for allowing their staff to participate in Safe Kids programs and activities."
Beth Walford, M.D., ACH pediatric surgeon and Suncoast Safe Kids Medical Director, expressed her thanks and said, "You stop the injuries before they happen and that's what makes my job as a surgeon much easier. Since Safe Kids was founded in Washington, DC in 1988, our country has seen a 55 percent decrease in unintentional injuries for kids ages 19 and under.
"When a child dies or is seriously injured, the lives of the families and the entire community can be changed forever," said Walford. "But these tragedies are often preventable and they don't have to happen. The important thing to remember is that we can prevent them. They can be completely avoided with the right education awareness and planning that you help provide on a daily basis."
Sarita Taylor, Florida Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School Coordinator, presented All Children's Hospital with an award for going beyond the mission.
"Safe Kids consists of an amazing group of people who know how to put things into action," said Mary Decker Mahoney, All Children's Director of Community Relations and Strategic Engagement. "It's hard to measure what you do. But I know you're out there day in and day out, talking to kids, teachers and parents about ways to stay safe."
Mahoney also recognized Florida State Representative Larry Ahern and his wife, who attended the event to support members and their outstanding efforts.
Aaron Reciniello, a 5th grader at Starkey Elementary this past year, came to the luncheon along with his mom and principal. He was recently hit by a pick-up truck while riding his bike to school. Fortunately, Aaron was wearing a bike helmet because the rule at his house is "no helmet, no bike." The helmet was cracked in half during the accident, but he was not seriously injured. Aaron was recognized by the Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition and Safe Routes to School Program for setting a good example for his classmates.
Two families from Polk County received awards for properly restraining their children in car seats that ultimately saved them from a potential life-threatening injury when they were involved in serious motor vehicle collisions.