Family volunteering a winning idea

Nov 6, 2008

Kettering Professor Dr. Patrick Atkinson and his family won a Family Fun Magazine award for volunteering as a family. Their prize will benefit the entire community.

The Atkinson family, of Grand Blanc, was one of 25 first place winners of Family Fun Magazine’s volunteers contest.  The magazine sought families that volunteered together.  The Atkinson family, Patrick, Theresa, Elise, Sarah and Claire, was nominated based on their work to educate the public about vehicle safety and child seat use through their non-profit organization Crash Survivors Network.  

The magazine awarded Crash Survivors Network $1,000 to honor the Atkinson’s volunteer work.

Dr. Patrick Atkinson '91 is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Kettering University. Dr. Theresa Atkinson is an independent vehicle safety researcher and founder of the Crash Survivors Network.   

The Family Fun donation will be put to work in GeneseeCounty through a free child seat check showing parents how to properly install their child seats. The free event is part of a three-year initiative between Kettering University and Safe Kids to sponsor classes to train local community members to check child car seats.  The 2008 class will take place at KetteringUniversity November 19-21, and end with a free child seat check on November 22 at Joseph Pontiac in Fenton.   

The Atkinsons established the Crash Survivors Network in 2005 after Emma, their daughter, died in a crash.  The organization provides information and support for families after a serious crash and works to reduce injuries and fatalities through community education.

“It is a family effort,” said Theresa Atkinson. “All of us volunteer at safety fairs, Pat and I are child passenger safety technicians and we check car seats with Greater Flint Safe Kids Coalition, our daughters Elise and Sarah help choose grief books for kids to feature on our website, and each child has served as a model for demonstrating correct child seat use.” 

“We especially want to promote child seat and booster seat use,” said Patrick Atkinson.  “As a volunteer child seat technician I see so many kids without seats and with seats installed wrong. Getting the right seat and using it correctly makes a big difference.”  Choosing the safest vehicle in your price range and using your seat belt can make a huge difference in what happens to you and your family in a crash” he added.  

About the Family Fun Magazine Volunteers Contest:

Celebrating the differences that families can make in their community and around the world, the fourth annual FamilyFun Volunteers Contest honors families that volunteer together. FamilyFun magazine, in conjunction with the Hands On Network (part of the Points of Light Institute) selected the winning families whose charities of choice are being awarded donations totaling $50,000.  

The Walt Disney Company, FamilyFun’s parent company, will donate $5,000 to the charities chosen by the five grand-prize winning families and $1,000 to the charities chosen by the 25 first-prize families, for a total of $50,000. The winners and their selected charities are featured in the November 2008 issue of FamilyFun magazine and at

For more information about the Crash Survivors Network visit their web site at