VillageFest Bike Rodeo honors memory of Fairway teen

Bike helmets work. And Otis Clough wants to make sure that every kid in Prairie Village knows it.

That’s why the Clough family’s “Headstrong for Jake Foundation” will be hosting its annual Bike Rodeo during the VillageFest Fourth of July festivities on Sunday. Kids who register for the event will be able to get a free bike tune up and participate in a bike obstacle course — after they’ve picked up their free bike helmet and had it properly fitted, of course.

Jake Clough

Otis and her husband Tom started Headstrong for Jake with some family friends after their son died in the wake of a bike accident in 2005. Fairway resident Jake Clough was 14 when he hit a truck on his bike in February 2005, a serious crash that resulted in brain injury and a coma. But, doctors said, Jake would surely have died if he hadn’t been wearing his bike helmet.

“Jake was always very good about wearing his helmet, and he was wearing it that day,” Otis said. “It saved his life.”

Doctors said Jake was projected to make a full recovery from his head injuries, but a month following the accident, Jake died after a feeding tube in his stomach became dislodged at Children’s Mercy Hospital. The resulting lawsuit filed by the Cloughs against Children’s Mercy was settled out of court.

“Jake was so strong, and he fought so hard after the accident,” Otis said. “It’s really important to us that people know that the helmet did what it was supposed to do. And the support we’ve gotten has been truly amazing. A lot of the people we come and volunteer for these events are people who worked with Jake while he was in the hospital.”

Since they started hosting the Headstrong for Jake Bike Rodeos, the foundation has given away more than 6,000 helmets. Otis estimates that 350 to 400 kids will participate in this year’s event.

The VillageFest rodeo will run from 10 a.m. to noon on July 4 on the grounds near Prairie Village city hall. For more information about the event and how to register, visit the Headstrong for Jake Web site.