TC Mom’s Loss Turns into Heroic Mission

A young girl's tragic death in a sledding accident has inspired an award-winning safety program.

The Chill Out Winter Safety Program promotes safe practices during winter activities such as sledding, skiing, ice fishing, and more. It was created by Munson Medical Center staffers Tammie Budrow and Jennifer Ritter who were honored by the state of Michigan as 2011 Hometown Health Hero Award winners at a Lansing ceremony on April 13.

Budrow was inspired to start the program in the wake of the January 2007 death of her daughter, Carly.

"After Carly died we thought about what we could do to keep the other kids safe," recalls Budrow. "We couldn't close down the hill where her accident happened. The right thing to do was to make it safe."

The program emphasizes the importance of wearing helmets and safe practices for children when sledding, skiing, and snowboarding. Budrow designed a coloring book that shows an adventurous bruin – Beary Careful – in different scenes wearing a necklace with the word "smile" on it. The necklace represents the smile that seemed to define Carly, says Budrow, who then teamed with Ritter, an educator for Munson Trauma Services and coordinator for the MSU Extension Service's Safe Kids Program.

The pair put together the Chill Out program and made a presentation at Carly's school. That led to additional school opportunities and a grant from Kohl's. The message is presented to preschool through sixth -graders. During the past year, Chill Out reached 3,600 students and gave 700 helmets to schools and students. For information, contact Ritter at 231-922-4843. BN