Ten years on, the mission remains the same: keeping kids safe, one helmet at a time.
The Helmets for Hardy helmet giveaway has been held each year since 2012 in honour of Yellowknife teen Josh Hardy, who passed away after suffering a head injury while skateboarding without a helmet.
While his parents Jackie and Ed Hardy usually plan the event, this year’s giveaway will be run by the Interact Club from Josh’s alma mater, École St Patrick High School.
Before retiring to Alberta last year, Jackie Hardy made sure the event and its mission remained present in the community.
“We knew it was an important initiative that we hoped would keep going because we knew Yellowknife always needs helmets,” Jackie said. “Josh, if he had been wearing a helmet? We know he’d still be here.”
She found a champion for the cause in Christina Silzer, a teacher at St Pat’s who once taught Josh.
When Jackie and Ed moved, Silzer said, “Jackie and I had a big conversation about: how do we keep this event going?
“I have a group of students at the Interact Club of St Pat’s, and so we decided that we would take over this event with the help of Jackie and Ed, and keep it going in honour of Josh.”
Around 30 high school students have been involved in coordinating this year’s giveaway since January – from social media advertising and grant-writing ahead of the event to volunteering on the day.
Helmets will be available for youth aged four to 13. With more than 200 helmets available, Silzer said her students are excited to be involved in what they hope will be the biggest giveaway yet.
“They’re a very socially aware, community-aware group of students that want to make a difference, and so that’s where this is coming from,” Silzer said.
Jackie and Ed have made the trip back to Yellowknife especially for the event.
“This year, it was important to us to make sure we’re here for the club and to show that, yes, we are definitely supporting them and want them to continue on,” Jackie said.
Jackie hopes to see many Yellowknife residents come out, if only to say a proper farewell since the family left the territory mid-pandemic.
“I would love to see everyone come out, even if you don’t need a helmet,” she said.
“It would be nice to be able to see a few people again and kind-of say our official goodbyes. I don’t know when we’ll be back.”