April 27--STAMFORD -- Having given out more than 24,000 helmets and counting, retired Stamford Police Officer Glenn Coppola and his wife Peggy get some comfort from their two decades of bicycle safety efforts in memory of their only son, Timothy.
Timothy Coppola suffered a traumatic brain injury after colliding with a car on Aug. 30, 1992. The Roxbury second-grader succumbed 22 months later.
This week, Timothy's mom, Peggy Coppola said she believes her son might have forgotten to wear his helmet because he excited that his friend had just received a new bicycle before they went riding together.
"Every child should be wearing a helmet if they are riding a bike," Peggy Coppola said. "One time was all it took for us, because Timmy knew the importance of wearing his helmet."
Timothy Coppola underwent two emergency brain surgeries at Cornell Presbyterian Medical Center, and was eventually allowed to return home, Glenn Coppola said.
This Saturday, members of the Stamford Police Association, the union representing Stamford police officers, will honor Timothy's memory with the 18th annual Timothy Coppola Memorial Helmet Giveaway from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fairway Market, 699 Canal Street, Stamford Police Sgt. Joseph Kennedy said.
The event, which is expected to distribute nearly 1,500 helmets this year, was initiated by Glenn Coppola in 1995, the year after his son died.
This year's giveaway is the first that will not be attended by the Coppolas, they said.
"What happens with this is that every time we talk about it, it brings back the memories again," Glenn Coppola said. "It's a very painful thing, but I feel the pain is worth it if it creates the awareness out there about the safety issue."
Kennedy said the union has taken over most of the organizational part of the event as the Coppolas sought to distance themselves to avoid the emotional strain of reliving the events.
"It had become a bittersweet thing for them," Kennedy said. "It makes it easier for them. In case they want to come they can just enjoy the day."
To donate to the annual effort, make out checks to the Timothy Coppola Memorial Helmet Giveaway, and send them to the Stamford Police Association, 805 Bedford St., Stamford, CT. 06902.
[email protected]; 203-964-2264.
Copyright 2012 - The Stamford Advocate, Conn.