Large turnout for first Luke Schaffner Safety Day
At the end of the day they were left with a pick-up truck piled high with 29 car seats – faulty, out-of-date or recalled ones.
To Jim and Kristi Schaffner and their friends and volunteers who helped organize the first Luke Schaffner Children’s Safety Day, it was a symbol of lives they may have saved.
The event was organized to offer free car seat safety inspection checks, free children’s ID cards, child and infant CPR introductions and bike and helmet fittings to the community. After losing their 11-month-old son, Luke, in a car accident last June, the Schaffners began working to promote child and car seat safety.
They expected about 200 parents and children to come out for Sunday’s event and to check approximately 50 car seats. When 474 people showed up, the Schaffners and organizers said they were overwhelmed by the concern of the community.
“The turnout far exceeded our expectations,” Kristi said. “It’s indicative of what a wonderful community we live in. Everyone came out to learn … it was truly inspirational.”
Of approximately 130 car seats that were inspected, only six were correctly installed, said the Schaffners. REMSA Point of Impact officials confiscated 29 car seats.
Approximately 175 children received two IDs each. According to Janet Beach, Luke Schaffner Committee member who helped organize the event and issue ID cards, the ID cards had the child’s photo, current measurements and weight, as well as medical and personal information. On the back of each card, information on what to do if your child is missing or injured is listed.
“It’s for the parents,” Beach said. “The goal is to have that picture always on hand.”
A lamination station was set up and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office manned a thumbprint station.
And 48 parents signed up for an upcoming CPR class.
The event raised over $10,000 between raffle ticket sales and cash donations, which will be added to the Luke Schaffner Memorial Fund. The family hopes to use the interest off of this fund towards future Luke Schaffner Safety Days in the community.
“We’ve got to get going on the educational piece of this,” Jim said.
Although event organizers were ecstatic about the turnout, they regretted having to turn some people away that they did not have time to help. They also realized that people waited in long lines – some waited up to an hour and a half to have their car seats checked.
“We definitely exceeded our expectations,” Jim said. “But on the other side, we didn’t get to see everyone that showed up.”
Parents who did not receive car seat inspections were given rain checks for the next REMSA checkpoint in Reno, where they could immediately go to the front of the lines.
But organizers and volunteers said if people were impatient, they did a good job of hiding it.
“I honestly believe that the community was extremely patient and appreciative, regardless of the long lines,” Jim said. “Next year, somehow we need to do a better job to entertain those who are waiting.”
The most important outcome is that the event helped raised awareness on child safety in the community, organizers said.
“It says this community is reachable,” Jim said. “The other thing is, there hasn’t been this availability around this area before.”
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