Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Readers: Please bear with me as I revisit a subject that has produced an extraordinary amount of mail. I am amazed that so many readers are passionate about the importance of wearing bicycle helmets. What follows could save the life of someone very dear to you.
Dear Ann Landers: I am an emergency-room pediatrician and the father of four. I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. I frequently treat children in the emergency room who have escaped a major head injury because they were wearing a helmet. And, sadly, too often, I see children who have suffered serious, irreversible and tragic head injuries — simply because they did NOT wear a helmet.
Parents need to insist on helmets and make sure their children wear them every time they hop on a bicycle. My family and I certainly do. — Bo Kennedy, emergency physician, St. Louis Children's Hospital
Dear Dr. Kennedy: I appreciate your input. And now, here's another letter on the subject.
Dear Ann Landers: I hope you will make room for one more response to the letter about the father who didn't want his children to wear bicycle helmets because they would "look like sissies."
I just attended the funeral of my son's best friend. He was 9 years old. This boy was riding his bike without a helmet and went through an intersection without stopping. He ran into the side of a car, was thrown backward, hit his head on a concrete and steel drainage hole and died instantly. The boy's parents and family are devastated. My son is devastated. His classmates and friends are devastated. The person who was driving the car is devastated.
Children who wear helmets are not sissies. They are smart. But more important, they are alive. My son wears his helmet when he is on his bike and will start wearing one when he begins inline skating. By teaching his children to disregard the law about helmets, that father is also teaching them to break any law they think is stupid. That man had better wake up and smell the coffee, or he will be attending a funeral — and it will be a funeral he will never forget. Believe me, today was the most emotionally draining day of my entire life. — Still Grieving in Louisville, Ky.
Dear Louisville: I'm sure your letter will move millions of readers, as it moved me. It's a chilling reminder that the simple act of putting on a helmet can make the difference between life and death.
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