(NEW YORK) — Fifteen years ago, Brian and Kathy Haugen lost their son Taylor while he was playing football for his high school team.
The wide receiver took a hit to his abdomen by two defenders and didn’t get up for a few minutes. After he made it to the sideline, coaches saw he still wasn’t well and called an ambulance.
Doctors later determined Taylor had internal bleeding and he died in the hospital.
“When I heard that his liver had multiple lacerations, I was very concerned that that was not repairable and it wasn’t,” Brian Haugen, a veteran, told ABC News. “And when they finally came to me [they] said, he’s pretty much gone.”
The boy’s parents said they wanted to do something to raise awareness over safety issues and let other parents know there are options to better protect their kids so they started a non-profit group and program, the Youth Equipment for Sports Safety.
The program has helped schools learn about the dangers of abdominal injuries and provided students with newer protective shirts that specifically protect that part of the body.
“It starts with a compression shirt that needs to be tight on the body,” Brian Haugen said. “So even if you were to hit somebody in the ribs with a punch, all they’re going to feel on the side of their body is just pressure.”
The couple said their organization has provided over 7,000 student-athletes with the equipment in 18 states. Recently they helped out Taylor’s school, Niceville High School in Florida.
“It was over 170 players and that was very rewarding for Brian and me,” Kathy Haugen said. “It’s almost a matter of continuing his legacy and continuing the story about what happened.”
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