Shaffner safety day Oct. 8 |

Shaffner safety day Oct. 8

A June 1999 car crash and tragic loss of an 11-month-old boy spurred Truckee parents Jim and Kristi Schaffner to search for solutions.

On June 15, 1999, their baby son, Luke Schaffner, was killed in a car crash on Highway 89 North at Alder Creek Road. The Schaffners learned that there were some installation mistakes with Luke’s car seat, but it will never really be known if a properly installed car seat would have changed the tragic outcome.

The incident devastated the family as well as the community, and many local parents began talking. They found that most of their children’s car seats were not installed properly.

Soon after the accident, a crusade to promote children’s safety began, and the Schaffners established the Luke Schaffner Memorial Foundation. The First Luke Schaffner Safety Day was organized one year ago; the second annual event will be this Sunday, Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sierra Mountain Middle School.

In the past year alone, countless lives may have been saved.

The first safety day was followed by two car seat inspection events. One hundred ninety-six car seats were checked for safety and 43 old or unsafe car seats have been collected in the past year. The foundation distributed 56 new car seats to families in the region; printed identification cards for 175 children and their parents; fit 125 bicycle helmets and distributed 10 to those who needed them; provided infant/child CPR refresher classes for more than 100 participants and taught CPR classes to more than 40 parents and caregivers; conducted three child passenger safety session for prenatal and “Mommy and Me” classes; raised more than $20,000 in its first year of operation and established partnerships with numerous other organizations.

As the movement continues and the organization grows, the Schaffners have found a new source of strength in overcoming their loss.

“Initially it gave us something positive to focus on,” Kristi Schaffner said. “That was essential for our healing process and the healing process for our friends and the community. Now everyone has gotten passionate about it and that’s been a motivation for us.”

The Schaffners and other organizers were surprised at the turnout for the first Safety Day. There was an obvious need in the community for a resource for children’s safety needs.

Just this month, the Schaffners learned the Luke Schaffner Memorial Foundation had been approved for non-profit status. Their dedication to pooling resources for children’s safety in the Truckee-North Tahoe area will continue to grow. In the upcoming year there are numerous car seat checkpoints organized as well a variety of educational outreach projects.

The Second Annual Luke Schaffner Safety Day will again feature a free car seat inspection, children’s ID cards (bring your child’s social security number), bike and ski helmet fittings and a child and infant CPR introduction.

There will also be a raffle, clowns, face painting, arts and crafts and other activities for children. Volunteers are still needed for the event; call Terry Hurt at 587-1044 if interested.

For information about the event, call 582-5781.

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