It was a Saturday morning in fall during her sophomore year and Kali Lindsay remembers enjoying a breakfast burrito before she hopped on her bike. She planned to meet her Oral Comm tutor at Meyer Library. Unfortunately, she never made it and instead ended up in Stanford Hospital with her concerned parents at her bedside. What happened is still somewhat of a mystery. What is clear is that Kali wasn’t wearing a bike helmet, she fell from her bike in front of Larkin and ended up unconscious with a life-altering brain injury.

Kali will tell you that, growing up in the San Diego area, she always wore a bike helmet, but, as a freshman at Stanford, peer pressure to be cool won out and she quit using a helmet.  After her accident, riding her bike was out of the question as she struggled to walk, gain her balance, build her stamina, and regain her ability to focus on books, TV or a computer.  These were huge hurdles and she moved home to recuperate.

When she came back to campus for winter and spring quarters, she took a reduced course load. She found being a student challenging academically, physically and psychologically.  As her strength increased she turned to running for exercise and she discovered psychology. In her words, “I fell in love with it.” Along the way her confidence returned and fortuitously she decided to become an RA.

Kali’s full recovery stands as a testament to her amazing perseverance, determination and positive attitude, but what’s just as impressive is her personal campaign to promote bike safety. In September, while on retreat with her fellow Larkin house staff and Resident Fellows Patti Hanlon-Baker and Geoff Baker, Kali recounted her accident and asked the dorm staff if they would commit to wearing bike helmets.  Not satisfied with a simple “yes,” the Larkin team brainstormed a grander vision. The RFs spoke to Valerie Ong from Res Ed and she worked with Ariadne Scott (Stanford’s Bicycle Program coordinator) and Allen James (from Stanford’s Department of Public Safety) to secure funding so that the campus Bike Shop could order 100 bike helmets for Larkin residents.

At house meeting on September 28 after Kali told her story the Larkin staff handed out bike helmets to their enthusiastic residents amid chants and cheers. The black helmets are decorated with white stickers proclaiming, “I (heart) my larkin lobes.” In Kali’s words, “It was surprising how positive everyone was! I was overwhelmed with joy!”   She’s delighted that Larkin has embraced her cause, but she’s especially pleased that the movement is gaining momentum as other residences follow suit.  According to Larkin RFs Patti and Geoff, “We’re seeing more Larkinites regularly wear their new helmets. With the staff’s ongoing efforts we look forward to protecting ‘Larkin lobes’ and building greater awareness that helmets are essential biking equipment and a very cool way to show Larkin pride.”