State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Kevin Dare Foundation Donates Safer Equipment for State High Pole Vault Pit

by on April 08, 2014 4:02 PM

After Eric Dare finished his own practice he would spend hours watching his brother and other teammates practice pole vaulting at the State College High School track.

The pole vaulters parked their cars by the vault-pit, pumping music from one of them as they honed their skills.

"I spent many afternoons right here," says Eric Dare.

Sadly, Eric Dare's brother, Kevin Dare, died tragically in a terrible pole vaulting accident while competing for Penn State in 2002 in Minneapolis. Something went wrong, and Kevin Dare landed on his head – a fatal injury. His head landed on the box with a steel casing that the pole locks into as the pole-vaulter rises into the air.

Eric Dare, State High track and field coaches and others gathered Tuesday at one of the school's two pole vault pits to celebrate a donation made by the Kevin Dare Foundation – a pole vault Soft Box.

The Soft Box is intended to be much safer than a traditional box and reduce the risk of injury. State High's box was originally made of steel and concrete.

"Kevin would want this sport to be safe," Eric Dare says.

Track and field coach Jenn Evans, who knew Kevin, remembered him as a friendly and upbeat guy.

"He was just always so pleasant, always excited, always passionate about what he did," Evans says. "We're just so incredibly grateful for all of the help the Dare Foundation has given to our program."

High school senior and pole vaulter Kate Nese says the new equipment adds a layer of comfort.

"It's nice to know there's an extra precaution," she says.

The Kevin Dare Foundation is a local non-profit group that's focused on improving the pole-vaulting safety mandates. The group developed the world's first approved pole vault specific helmet and the first Soft Box, while trying to increase awareness of the dangers and safety standards needed for the sport.

The foundation also offers college scholarships, through its "Life...Back On Track" program. These scholarships are offered to high school athletes who have suffered a debilitating injury or illness. Applications for the scholarships can be found HERE.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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