Medical students biking across Canada for helmet safety to receive $20,000 boost from Canada’s home, car and business insurers

OTTAWA, July 26 – Four medical students who are cycling across Canada this summer to raise awareness about how to prevent brain and spinal-cord injuries could receive as much as $20,000 from Canada’s home, car, and business insurers, who are sponsoring the cyclists as part of their Be Smart. Be Safe. Injury Prevention Program.

The students — Scott Smith of Ottawa, Marieke Gardner of Halifax, Peter Ceponis of Sarnia, and Alun Ackery of Toronto — began the ThinkFirst Heads Across Canada Tour in Vancouver on May 28. Cycling an average of 150 km a day, they will have covered 5,558 km when they complete their journey.

“These young people are an inspiration and true ambassadors of injury prevention. We are proud to help them take this important safety message to Canadians across the country,” said Mark Yakabuski, representing Canada’s home, car and business insurers.

To learn more about the cyclists and their journey, or to make a donation, visit Canada’s home, car, and business insurers will match all donations made to ThinkFirst during the tour to a maximum of $20,000.

“We are thrilled to welcome Canada’s home, car and business insurers as our lead sponsor for the Ottawa-to-St. John’s leg of the tour,” said Jim Russell, Executive Director of ThinkFirst, a national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing brain and spinal-cord injuries. “Insurers understand the importance of helmet safety, and their sponsorship of the tour is a real boost.”

While visiting the website, the public can also enter a draw to win one of two Aquila Prima 20-speed racing bikes — the same bicycle the cyclists are riding — along with a bicycle helmet. The bicycles retail for around $2,200 and will be custom-fitted for the winners by Racer Sportif of Toronto.

Each student has a personal reason for taking part in the trek. Smith, who has worked in hospital emergency rooms, is committed to keeping people out of the ER. Gardner lost a close friend in a cycling incident because he wasn’t wearing a helmet. Ceponis has worked in intensive care units and has seen firsthand the devastation caused by trauma injuries. Ackery became determined to promote increased helmet use after conducting research into spinal-cord and traumatic sports injuries.

Be Smart. Be Safe. is a nationwide outreach program from Canada’s home, car, and business insurers. It is dedicated to supporting the good work of local injury prevention groups while helping Canadians to prevent injuries in the home, on the road, and at play. For more information about Be Smart. Be Safe, visit the website at