Anthony Fiume, Brandon Drummond, Mark Hirsch and Nick Perez graduated from Clarkstown High School South in 2006, and they returned on Friday with gifts.
New, top-of-the-line helmets for the South football team.
The four run a company created by Fiume and Drummond back in March with the goal of spreading awareness and educating the youth on the seriousness of brain injuries, especially concussions. Drummond was at Penn State studying kinesiology looking at moving onto graduate school for sports medicine while one of the biggest issues surrounding the National Football League, and football in general, was concussions. There was a lot of talk about how one gets concussed, as well as proper treatment for concussions when Drummond noticed something.
“They were using these boring, wordy posters to try and educate people,” he said. “That doesn’t appeal to athletes, especially the younger ones.”
Drummond’s initial idea was to create a fun video about the seriousness of concussions, and he contacted his friend from high school Fiume, who studied TV and Business at Hofstra. Together they created ," a company dedicated to merging entertainment and education to help raise awareness of concussions. They brought in their friends, Hirsch and Perez, who both studied business in school.
When they came together, they had an idea not only for one video, but multiple videos, fashion and music.
“We thought this could turn into a movement,” Fiume said. “We’re trying to make it look cool to protect yourself.”
The sleek helmets will help. While making the presentation at South on Friday afternoon, Drummond told the South football players that not only are the Riddell Revolution Speed helmets rated the safest by multiple places, but they’re also “really cool looking.” The helmets in total cost a little more than $7,200, which the company raised through seeking donations, as well as selling t-shirts and wristbands outside local businesses.
“I was just in awe this spring when I was told a group of former students was trying to get us these helmets,” said Michael Scarpelli, South’s football coach. “I kept getting updates of how close they were getting and it’s just awesome how much work they put in. We fundraise every year, so we know how difficult it can be. And not only did they work hard to get money for the helmets, but they really did their research about the safety aspect as well.”
Back in 2002, the University of Pittsburgh concluded a three-year study which said the Riddell Revolution Speed helmets reduce the risk of concussions by by 31 percent. Just this May, Virginia Tech announced similar findings in a decade-long study, giving the Revolution helmet the only 5-star rating.
The group has already begun fundraising to give the same helmets to Clarkstown High School North, which they hope to do as quickly as possible. Fiume said they’re going to really get out in the fall, but added that the helmets are an added bonus.
“We’re more about fully educating the youth about concussions,” he said. “We want to educate kids in Pee Wee leagues and start to engrain it in their football pysche how dangerous head injuries are. To change the culture you have to start young, and we want people to put their brains in front of everything else.”
He added the biggest project the group is working on is a feature-length documentary on concussions and head injury, adding they’ve already talked to people at Penn State and Hofstra, and have more interviews lined up with others. They also plan to work on some shorter videos as well.
Drummond said the group hopes to work with youth leagues and other schools helping to educate. One big issue with all of the studies done so far is there is a gap between what’s found in the studies and getting that information to those who compete in contact sports.
“There’s a lack in that area we’re trying to fill,” he said.
One thing he told the football players during the presentation was to not be nervous to tell a coach or another player if their head hurts.
“There has always been a stigma because you can’t see a concussion or head injury," Drummond said. "They’re invisible when you’re just looking at someone. And because of that sometimes people get accused of faking injuries or being weak, and if you’re a high school football player, your manhood is all you’ve got.”
Fiume added that while they might not want to miss a game, it’s better to miss a game or two while letting an injury properly heal as opposed to playing through one and risking further damage.
“It could literally ruin your career,” Fiume said. “And your life.”
While Drummond was the only to actually play football in high school, both he and Fiume have had concussions in the past. Drummond got one while snowboarding and “didn’t really know what was going on or even what a concussion was before that,” he said.
Fiume got one while playing soccer that went undiagnosed because he, too, didn’t know about concussions at the time.
“I just thought it was a bad headache,” he said.
And those are the things the group is hoping to stop from occurring. This weekend, they have an online store opening where they’ll sell t-shirts and wristbands going toward North’s helmets, and they’re still working on the rest of their site, which they want to have information about head injuries, places for people to ask questions and speak with one another. For the time being, they’re on Facebook and Twitter, and are always looking for others to work with.They also have a site where people can email them or donate money.
“We’re all about collaboration,” Fiume said.