Promoting bicycle safety in memory of son

Family hands out bike helmets to protect children from injury

MIKE PIEKARSKI Special to the Times Union
Section: Capital Region,  Page: D6

Date: Thursday, July 24, 2008

SCHENECTADY - Three years ago, Chantell Hosier's life changed forever. On July 22, 2005, eight days before her son Joey's 12th birthday, he was struck by an SUV on Sunset Avenue doing what he loved: riding a bicycle.


Moments after he'd gotten off the school bus, Joey had fixed his little brother Raymond's bike. The chain had come loose and Joey, after threading it around the sprocket, took the bike for a spin to see if the chain would stay, his mother said. Seconds later, he was on the ground, bleeding, after being struck by the vehicle. He died two days later from massive brain trauma. When riding his bike, Joey always wore his helmet, Hosier said, but accidents can happen in seconds. Hosier decided to do something about it. For the third consecutive year, she will host a bike safety day. On Saturday from noon to 6 p.m., she and her children will hand out free helmets to young riders at a block party at 155 Clement Ave.


"We work all year long doing this," Hosier said. The Hosier children - Nick, 18; Carmella, 16; Raymond, 11; Jessie, 8; and Cody, 7 - made sure the event is a family affair.


"These kids earned $500 of their own money collecting bottles and cans," their mom said. "They're the ones that are doing the hard work. (Joey's) siblings are the ones out there making sure those kids have helmets."


Hosier said she constantly talks to young bikers about safety.


"I'm out there every day (asking,) 'Do you know where your helmet is?' " Hosier said. "They say, 'I don't have one.' It's against the law for these kids to be on a bike without helmets." The state Department of Health says children up to age 14 must wear helmets when riding a bicycle. Each year about 2,200 New Yorkers are hospitalized with bike-related injuries; more than a third involve a brain injury.


Although she has gotten some local assistance for the block party - Wal-Mart contributed gift certificates and Price Chopper donated food - it has not been easy.


"I've been out shopping for two weeks," said Hosier, who with her husband, Ray, works full time. "I pay for groceries out of my own pocket."


Les Plaine, owner of the Plaine and Son Bike Ski Snowboard shop in the city, helped out, selling 120 helmets to the family for $4 apiece. He normally sells them for about $25.


While the family gave out fewer than 100 helmets at last year's event, Hosier is hoping to have about 170 this year.


Mike Piekarski is a freelance writer from Latham. He can be reached at piewrite@aol.com.