New football helmets such as the one seen here have been provided to the Area Youth Sports football program by the Jake Lord Play It Safe Foundation. Nearly $10,000 was awarded from the foundation. Courtesy photo

LIVERMORE FALLS — Area Youth Sports football players will have new helmets this year thanks to support from the Jake Lord Play It Safe Foundation.

While football programs across the state have seen a decrease in players, AYS Football Director Joshua Reichenbach recently said there has started to be an increase in participation the AYS program.

“This year we have over 75 kids within all [four] levels of football,” he noted.

There isn’t a standard grant application for the Jake Lord Play It Safe Foundation, Jenna Winokur one of the foundation’s founders said recently.

“I’ve spoken with local coaches and program directors and have encouraged them to reach out if there is a need for new and safer sports equipment for their athletes,” she noted. “When I was contacted by the AYS football program, I assured them that the JLPISF would gladly support their youth athletes and would provide updated helmets for the players.”

Winokur and her parents created the foundation to promote safety in sports after her brother Jake Lord took his life. He was a talented athlete for Jay High School who had several concussions while playing sports.

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The new helmets will replace worn out or expired models.

“They are top of the line helmets that will help keep athletes as safe as possible on the playing field,” Winokur stated.

The foundation provided nearly $10,000 worth of updated helmets for the AYS Football Program. Some sizes were delivered earlier this month and the remaining ones are expected to arrive Wednesday, Aug. 31, Reichenbach said Monday.

“This should meet the demand of the program this year, to ensure that all athletes have a safe helmet to wear this season,” Winokur noted earlier. “This is the foundation’s first purchase for AYS but in the past we have purchased helmets and shoulder pads for the Spruce Mountain High School football team, head-gear for the soccer team, mats for the cheerleaders and a high jump mat for the track team. The JLPISF is committed to providing safe and updated equipment for as many youth athletes as possible.

“The Jake Lord Play It Safe Foundation has been a registered 501-c3 nonprofit for over ten years. With the support of the community we have been able to provide updated equipment to numerous youth athletes. In the past, we have hosted our annual basketball game fundraiser each November. We are hopeful that we will be able to return to an in-person fundraiser this fall … more info[rmation] to come!”

“AYS is new to the JLPISF this year but we are in complete support of the program and what it represents,” Reichenbach said. “We are hopefully going to be able to support their 11th annual Jake Lord Play It Safe Foundation basketball tournament the day after Thanksgiving. This event does silent auctions, raffle items, basketball games all day, concessions and much more to continue to raise money for the foundation.”

AYS football practices have started with the first games scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 10.

For more information or to donate to the Jake Lord Play It Safe Foundation please visit playitsafefoundation.org or email [email protected]

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