DENVER (CBS4) – On a frigid Thursday students at the Denver School for the Arts traded stocking caps for helmets.

It’s part of a campaign to raise awareness about the protection helmets offer for all sorts of activities, including snowboarding and skateboarding.

Dustin Hickok (credit: CBS)

Dustin Hickok (credit: CBS)

The school wanted to do something after Dustin Hickok, 16, was badly hurt in a longboarding accident. He was not wearing a helmet and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Hickok is in the hospital but his parents went to the school to make sure the kids got the message about how serious head injuries can be.

“They estimate he was going anywhere from 30 to 40 miles an hour because they get going really fast,” his father Ed Hickok said. “He unfortunately was not wearing his helmet and he landed on his head.”

“It happened three weeks ago,” his mother Jeannete Sorensen-Hickok. “It’s been very hard. It’s been very, very hard to see life change in a minute, in a second. And knowing that your son is about to die and they bring a priest to give him last rites, then to see him turn it around — he’s a really strong survivor.”

But Dustin has a long road to recovery.

“They removed half his skull to relieve the pressure,” Hickok said. “He has fracturing all down the side of his face and some in his jaw. From the chin down he’s fine.

“If he was wearing a helmet, he might have broken his chin but he wouldn’t be where he is now.”

It’s that message Hickok wanted to make sure Dustin’s friends at school really took home.

“The school approached us about how they can give some support to Dustin and to us,” Sorensen-Hickok said. “Actually my husband came up with the idea what if everyone could just for a day to wear a helmet at school … to just bring up the awareness for everybody, for the kids to show just how important it is to wear a helmet.”

To raise that awareness, the school agreed to let the kids wear helmets. Some even started a collection to help students who couldn’t afford helmets buy them.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

As for Dustin, the vocal major at DSA is using his music to help with his therapy. Right now he’s confined to a wheelchair because his balance is off but he is talking and his parents say he is working hard.

Still, doctors tell the Hickoks it will take Dustin about a year to fully recover from the fall.


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