Friday, July 15, 2011

An Interview with Tom Loveless from Helmets In Hands

Name:            Tom Loveless
Foundation:   Helmets In Hands HIH LLC 
"Preventing traumatic brain injury through helmet awareness."

How old are you? 34

Where did you grow up? Kansas City Missouri
Where do you live now? Kansas City Missouri

When did you start skating? Late 80's Stopped then got back into it in 2007.

When was your skate accident? 
June 28th 2009 about 4:00pm at Lee's Summit Mo Skatepark.

What happened exactly? I was just wrapping up a short session. I had just put my helmet and extra board in the car and I still had on my knee pads. I went back to the top of the Skatepark to get my other board and figured why not one last run. Well I pushed to hit the 8 foot roll-in and From what people told me I went up the 10 foot concrete quarter on the other side, I hung up and fell straight on my head. I laid there completely knocked out and blood everywhere. Thanks to skaters half my age they came to my rescue getting me medical help.

When did you start HIH? I started the idea for a helmet awareness campaign with out the name (HIH) while I was in the Trauma unit at Centerpoint Hospital the day I fell. I remember I couldn't make the decision to get up or go see my kids. I had to lay still, I remember smelling a lot of blood and vomiting like the exorcist. 
Not wearing a helmet when I fell caused me to loose my hearing in my right ear, I busted my left eye socket and hemoglobin, put multiple breaks in the top and back of my skull, and had bleeding in my brain.

For the moment I was alive, the bleeding was pretty bad but between my ruptured eardrum and hematoma.
This relieved enough pressure to reduce the swelling in my brain.  Later that evening in the trauma unit the medical team came to the conclusion that my bleeding in my brain was starting to dissipate, no surgery was needed and recovery seemed to be hopeful, I was then transferred to the ICU.

So a few days later I decided to start typing emails to my friends and people I did and didn't know in the skate industry asking for help. I wanted to create a helmet awareness campaign that skaters and athletes could get behind and relate with. My first professional contact was with Wayne Gallipoli owner of Surf_Rodz.  Wayne's background in both business, skateboarding and graphics design helped add important creative elements to my future helmet awareness company.

My aspiration was to create a one of a kind traumatic brain injury prevention campaign focused on helmet awareness.
This program would be ran by skaters and bikers as well as athletes from diverse backgrounds.
Our focus would be relating with and educating riders on both a one on one level and a one to many level.  I wanted to show people that safety discussions did not have to be boring or preachy but something each one of us could relate to and understand. 

I needed to focus on a goal so recovering and my helmet awareness campaign were my target goals. The Faster I healed the quicker I got to see my Children, I physically could not lift over a few pounds or even bend down to pick something up for weeks. Healing was a challenge but I used that challenge to push this helmet awareness idea forward.

Why did you start HIH? Well I'm alive so I feel it's my responsibility number one. The doctors never said  "well you should have been wearing your helmet" and I appreciated that, I could kind of figure that one out already. I started this helmet awareness idea because from treatment, recovery, to going home it was all team work based. I could see that when I asked for help I received it, and when I made progress it excited everyone. So I implemented those same ideas teamwork into a helmet awareness campaign.  The idea was kept simple, make wearing a helmet cool. Supply only the latest and greatest knowledge and products, market like crazy, never take no or a I don't wanna be involved personal, and turn the doubtful and negative into believers. 

So after about 30+ days I was well enough to see my kids. My first night back with my kids and I'm putting them all to bed, my son was on the carpet with my hosi pop art deck the one I fell 10 feet on.  TJ, 4 at the time takes my helmet that he had been wearing off his head, TJ puts the helmet in my hands saying "helmet hand". I could see the name it hit me "Helmets In Hands". So "helmet hand" became helmets in hands to describe the action and responsibility we all take when introducing a helmet or helmets to a person who makes a commitment to wear it.

Can you explain a few events that HIH has put on? Pure Excitement! it's  a good way to explain our events. We make wearing a helmet fun.  Kids are stoked, they get a helmet right then and there. No charge, no shipping fees we don't ask for a dime. There is no wait we travel with helmets, liners and warranty cards. All we ask is you make a commitment and sign our Wear It! Certificate. It's awesome to see a little kid and parents make that commitment together. We explain how a helmet should fit, we take this part seriously it's apart of the ownership experience. So in order to signify the ownership experience we take it even one step further. You will get to sit down with an artist what's even cooler is there a tattoo artist. Jeremy Angotti a long time friend of mine, tattoo artist, and skater owns Bleeding Heart Tattoo (BHT) company in Lee's Summit Mo. BHT donates there talent and time inking hundreds of helmets at each event we do. For out of town events we encourage skaters to ink up there own helmets. This part really builds a sense of ownership in the helmet wearing experience. Documentation is crucial for what we do so we have a professional photographer attend each event, Hendrix Digital Media donates there services capturing that moment before, during, and after the helmet Is presented to the skater or biker. We encourage riders to share there helmet art with us and pictures they take and we often put the pictures up on Facebook or our website. 

Why did you choose to work with S-One Helmets? 
Our friends at Escapist in KC introduced us. S-One owners Chris and Dan seemed genuinely interested in our approach, prior to S-One HIH worked with Triple 8 however S-One and HIH hit it off.  I personally like and wear the S-One Lifer helmet however I also am stoked to know these guys skate, are family oriented and treat each business transaction with the highest level of integrity. They have the right idea and are dialed into the skate scene. 

What or when is your next event?
HIH just celebrated two years of business. With 3 events in June and July and 2 sponsorship event. It's been a busy 2 months. We have handed out over 150 helmets from  Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire, and  Washington from the middle of June 2011to the first week of July 2011. On top of that Volcanic Promotions was kind enough to advertise for us at the 2011 Maryhill Festival of Speed.  Our Team Manager John Fleshman even spear headed his idea of a helmet art show into a reality July 9th called "A life saving piece of art-the helmet".

Companies like Skullcandy have also been very supportive sending earphones to our events so kids get hyped on the prizes. Our collective skate shop support is also beyond amazing as both Genesis Skateboards of Missouri and Dairdevil Boards of Kansas bring tons of energy, and awesome prizes for the skaters and bikers to all of our events.

I am also very excited on the success of the  rider of the month program HIH started in January of 2011. This program took about a year to develop however it has taken off for us bigger then I would have guessed. Nicole Noller  a previous HIH rider of the month winner for March now leads the rider of the month program. Nicole skates everywhere finding talented riders like Gracie Bails and Hannah Chumley to also represent HIH as team riders and helmet advocates. Nicole is building a female Skate team for HIH and we are hyped on her energy.You can visit our website and meet
Our July Rider of the Month Azure at

Is there anything else you would like to say?
Thank you to everyone who supports helmet awareness and our efforts at Helmets In Hands.  And... Wear It!

Feel free to email Tom for more information about Helmets In Hands.

S-One and HIH have teamed up to give a free helmet to
the "HIH Rider Of The Month". Check out the HIH website
to learn more.
A young skater at a Helmets In Hands Event in New Hampshire.
He is wearing an S-One Lifer Helmet.
HIH Team Rider and helmet advocate Evan Doherty.
aka Big - E blasting a backside air at the
3rd Lair Skatepark in Minnesota.