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Ripon High juniors raise $22,000 for helmets
From left, Troy Brogan and Nico Ilardi, both juniors for the Ripon High varsity football team, raised funds to make possible the Riddell SpeedFlex helmets for all levels of the program. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT / The Bulletin

Nico Ilardi was a freshman when he sustained a concussion playing for the Ripon High football program.

“I had headaches and had trouble functioning,” he said at Monday’s Ripon Unified school board meeting.

As a result, his folks purchased a Riddell SpeedFlex helmet for his safety.

“I thought it was unfair of being among the select few (with the SpeedFlex helmet),” he said.

Ilardi and his good friend Troy Brogan decided to do something about it.

About a year ago, they spearheaded a fundraising campaign to provide Riddell SpeedFlex helmets to all levels of the RHS football program, in turn, improving the safety of the game.

These helmets are known for reducing the chances of concussions.

Ilardi and Brogan raised over $22,000.

They were especially thankful for the generosity of the community, including major sponsors Ripon Quarterback Club, Diamond Pet Foods, and Freedom Fire Protection.

“We sent letters to local businesses and RHS families,” said Brogan.

The Ripon Quarterback Club, Freedom Fire Protection and Diamond Pet Foods donated over $1,000 each.

Ilarti and Brogan, both juniors, are key players for Trans-Valley League co-champion Ripon (5-1 TVL, 9-1).

The Indians are the No. 2-seeded team in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs. They’ll host No. 7 Mountain House in the second-round clash at 7 p.m. Friday.

Ilardi and Brogan aren’t quite done yet with their efforts.

They’re working towards providing the impact monitoring system for all helmets.

According to Brogan, this smart helmet technology alerts the sideline of any significant impact on the field.

“Players usually won’t say anything -- they want to stay in the game,” he said.

The plan calls for a partnership with the local hospitals to share in the cost.

The estimated total is $13,000 or $190 per helmet.

The two RHS players indicated that the conditioning fee could be waived with the purchase, bringing the total cost to about $10,000.

They’re also hoping that the district can partner up as well in this endeavor in keeping players safe and successful.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail