Small Towns Matter Campaign Equips Falls City Bike Riders

FALLS CITY – UnitedHealthcare and News Channel Nebraska emphasized the “small towns matter” campaign Wednesday at South Elementary School in Falls City, where over 230 students received new bicycle helmets.

There were over 500 registrations that included a 250-word essay describing why your school was deserving of the award. Fifteen of those came from Falls City and the one from Fourth grade teacher Leigh Anne Blankenship was chosen.

She was told that her class had the most essays written, but was surprised to learn at the presentation that her essay was drawn.

Blankenship: “I just talked about, you know, small towns matter because you can have a closer community of people. You know people better so you feel safer in your community.”

She said her essay talked about support of small business and small classrooms.

She is getting a first-hand experience about how an accident can ruin a summer break. She’ll be wearing a boot after breaking a bone in her foot last week, but said she feels better knowing the helmets will make the kids safer.

Blankenship: “I’m also proud of all my kids that wrote in for the essay. It’s important to teach our kids, I feel like just to have that responsibility and have a part in something. They were allowed to have a part of something that means something for our school.”

Mike Flood said UnitedHealthcare and News Channel Nebraska teamed up because small towns really do matter.

Flood: “In fact the data shows that if you are raised in a small town, you can go anywhere and do anything the rest of your life. That’s not the case in a lot of places in America.”

UnitedHealthcare CEO Rob Broomfield said active kids means active adults.

Broomfield: “I couldn’t think of anything that fit better with our mission of helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better than getting actively involved in small towns all over the state of Nebraska.”

Superintendent Tim Heckenlively said the school is grateful for the helmets provided to second through fifth grade students and the idea that small towns matter.

Heckenlively: “Our school and Falls City exemplify the benefits of rural life in Nebraska.”

Principal Mike Wentz said bicycle safety has been a regular message for the students and drivers.

Wentz: “What better way to end the year than to send these kids out of here, all with a new helmet and ready to go. We hope it carries over to the summer for these kiddos to use those helmets and to make great choices down the road.”

Mayor Shawna Bindle, a paramedic, also addressed the students about the importance of safety.