by Kathryn Whitaker, PreemieBabies101 Lead Blogger
In 2010, when our son was fitted for a helmet to correct his plagiocephaly and brachycephaly, we were thrilled to learn of a non-profit, located in Dallas, that wrapped orthotic helmets for free. Each month 360 Wraps, a for-profit business, closes their shop and opens it to parents and kids, like our son, to wrap about 15 helmets. For us, the atmostphere was festive, welcoming and understanding as we made connections with other parents facing a similar situation.
However, as the owner, Tommy Strader (who still personally wraps every helmet!) started working on the first helmet, he began to tell us the story of how Wrap Buddies was born. It was his witness and his easy-going candor that left the room speechless, sprinkled with bits of laughter.
In 2009, a father contacted 360 Wraps and asked if they would wrap his son’s helmet. Tommy had never heard of plagiocephaly, but decided it couldn’t be much different than wrapping a motorcycle helmet. He typically charges $300-$1,000, but when he learned of the out-of-pocket cost to purchase the orthosis, sometimes as high as $4,000, he gifted the helmet to this father and his son. News spread like wildfire and the shop started getting numerous calls a day.
Through some trial and error, the shop implemented a system, set up a website and established an official non-profit, Wrap Buddies. They’ve wrapped over 300 helmets, to date. More than 42 shops in 23 states offer helmet wraps for free or discounted costs because of Tommy and 360 Wraps. His outreach has expanded beyond just helmets, as they’ve wrapped prosthetic limb and back orthoses, as well.
“I like to help out the underdog, as I feel in many ways I have been the underdog, and have overcome many obstacles to get to where I am and feel it necessary to pay it forward,” says Tommy. Read his full story.