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More than 200 helmets donated to youth skiers and boarders

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RIPLEY – A $5,000 donation made by Portage Health and Dr. Craig Coccia, from the Marquette General Brain and Spine Center, has enabled the Mont Ripley Ski Hill to purchase 205 helmets, which will be given away to local youth skiers.

Ski HelmetThe donation is meant to keep all of our area skiers safe, and includes $3,000 from Portage Health as well as $2,000 from Dr. Coccia.

“18 percent of accidents at Mont Ripley this year have been concussions,” said Nick Sirdenis, the ski hill’s manager. “Of those concussions, only one had a helmet.”

The helmets are being personally sized and handed out to children of all ages participating in the hill’s after-school program.

“We’re honored to be part of this program, teaming up with Mont Ripley and Dr. Coccia to help our area youth stay active, safe and healthy,” said Angela Luskin, community health coordinator at Portage Health. “Bringing awareness to helmet safety for skiing and snowboarding is important, and we are glad to be able to assist.”

Helmet distribution began Monday, and will continue into next week. Children with no, or improperly fitting helmets will take priority.

“Right now about 30 to 40 percent of children wear helmets,” Sirdenis said. “Three years ago it was half that. Through education, and with help from community partners like Portage Health and Dr. Coccia, we’re trying to make helmets the norm, not the exception.”

To find out details about getting your child a helmet, call 487-2340 or e-mail

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