LANCASTER, N.Y. -- The death of local high school football player Damon Janes devastated the Western New York community in September.
But tonight, at the InvisionHealth Foundation's Inaugural Celebrity Masquerade Ball, Damon was honored. A grant was made to the Damon Janes Scholarship Fund, which aims to enhance safety in youth athletics.
And, for the first time since the tragedy, Damon's father spoke with 2 On Your Side about what the scholarship means to him.
"Any time you can bring good out of bad is always a positive," Dean Janes said. "It's brought a lot of people linked together that never would have before. It's still hard to process the whole process we've been going through."
The Brocton City Schools and Central School System will use the scholarship to help teach physical education teachers and administrators how to better implement safety to young athletes.
Damon suffered a helmet-to-helmet tackle during the third quarter of Westfield-Brocton's game against Portville on Sept. 13, though it is not yet determined whether that was the cause of his death. The 16-year-old junior running back was taken off the field, rushed to Olean General and later moved to Women & Children's Hospital in Buffalo, where he died three days later.
Dean, 45, is a logger in Brocton - a town 50 miles south of Buffalo. He said the community support he and his family have received since the tragedy has been "overwhelming," including the grant from the InVision Health Foundation.
"The support has been so huge, it's brought a lot of people together," Dean said. "It's brought a lot of awareness. We're making good steps and helping other kids out there."
InVision Health funds research around the country, educates patients and raises awareness about the over-350 neurological symptoms and disorders that exist today, according to Executive Director Kathleen Flemming. It was launched eight weeks ago, just before Damon's death.
Damon's family has felt comforted by the hope that the Damon Janes Scholarship Fund could ensure better precautions for other young athletes.
"It helps with the process, but you can never take the hurt away," Dean said. "You cannot do it at this time."