SAFR and Carolina Panthers Unite for Player Safety: Launch of Hero Initiative

SAFR Launches Carolina Panthers Hero Initiative to promote head safety across the sport of football. 

This month, the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC witnessed the dawn of a groundbreaking initiative as SAFR proudly announced the launch of the Carolina Panthers Hero Initiative. With the esteemed presence of several Carolina Panthers players, including the passionate advocate for head safety, Ikem Ekwonu, the event marked a significant step towards ensuring the well-being of young athletes in the Charlotte community.

The Carolina Panthers Hero Initiative, spearheaded by Carolina Panther Ikem Ekwonu otherwise know as “Big Ickey”, aims to equip 20 high schools in the Charlotte area with SAFR Helmet Covers. These covers, proven to enhance head safety, carry the legacy of Ickey’s collegiate career at NC State, where he himself wore a cover with pride.

SAFR Sports has had a great relationship with Ickey for the past four years, he’s a special person! Ickey and his teammates are excited to give back to the game that they love and make the players safer so that may also be afforded the same opportunities that football has given them.

John Zeglinski, CEO, SAFR

Ickey already stands as a Hero for three high schools in the region, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to the cause of player safety. His dedication to this initiative underscores the urgent need to prioritize head safety in football, especially at the grassroots level.

As a proud Carolina Panther and lifetime football lover, I’ve experienced firsthand the importance of head safety in football. Partnering with SAFR for the Carolina Panthers Hero Initiative allows me to not only impact my community but advocate for the bigger cause and ensure that future generations can play the game they love with confidence and protection.” 

Ikem Ekwonu, Carolina Panther

As passionate supporters of education and safety, SAFR and the Carolina Panthers players teamed up with Atrium Health, as together we share a common vision of empowering young minds while safeguarding their well-being on the field. By collaborating with Atrium Health, our student athletes have direct access to medical professionals on the sidelines, as part of Atrium Health’s Athletic Trainer Outreach Program at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Together, we all share a mission to extend our impact and effect real change in athlete safety across all levels of play in both practices and games. 

“As the Official Sports Medicine Partner for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, safety of our athletes is paramount. At Atrium Health, prevention of head injuries and concussion is one key area we are focused on and equipping our football players with SAFR helmet covers has the potential to greatly enhance player safety. We are excited for this opportunity and look forward to this upcoming season where our athletic trainers and sports medicine team will be on the sidelines caring for all of our student athletes.”

David Price, MD Atrium Health Medical Director of Athletic Training for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

The Carolina Panthers Hero Initiative represents more than just a partnership; it symbolizes a collective effort to instill a culture of safety and responsibility within the football community. Through initiatives like this, SAFR and the Carolina Panthers are committed to ensuring that every player has the opportunity to pursue their passion for the game in a safe and supportive environment.

As Chairman of the Board at SAFR, I am immensely proud to see the launch of the Carolina Panthers Hero Initiative. This collaboration underscores our unwavering commitment to prioritize player safety in football. Through partnerships like this, we are not only protecting young athletes but also shaping a future where sports and safety go hand in hand.” 

Carlos Bradley, Chairman of the Board, SAFR

For more information about the SAFR Hero Program and the Carolina Panthers Hero Initiative, please visit or email us at [email protected].