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Sports & Fitness // Keeping Score
Bob Hogue

HPU Helmet Night Honors Kameron

Kathleen Steinhoff chokes back tears when she speaks about her late son, former Hawaii Pacific University and Punahou basketball star Kameron Steinhoff.

“I have my good days and my bad days,” she says. “I still get really emotional sometimes.”

Kameron, the former State Player of the Year at Punahou and a part-time starter for the SeaWarriors, died tragically in a night skateboarding accident in May 2011, just hours after finishing his finals at HPU and then visiting several teachers and coaches at Punahou, and meeting with his parents for dinner.

“I got a call from his friends that he had hit his head while riding someone’s skateboard,” his mother recalls. “Nobody saw it happen, but they heard it.”

Her son’s death at the young age of 21 came just a few years after another tragedy.

“I lost my cousin the same way. He was riding a skateboard on a hill on the Big Island when he fell and hit his head,” she says.

Kathleen believes wearing a safety helmet could have saved both their lives.

“There are no guarantees,” she says, “but when I see teenagers without a helmet, I tell them, ‘You can break a leg or your arm, but when you hit your head, it’s a different story. You never know when it will happen to you. I lost my son that way.’”

She says some teenagers scoff at her advice, but she sees others listening.

“I saw a man with his son, and the boy was wearing a helmet,” she says. She stopped to tell them her story. “They were shocked. The boy listened. I told him how proud I was of him, and thanked them for being safe.”

She and her mother, Kameron’s grandmother, have tried to get legislation passed to require safety helmets for bikes and skate-boards, but that legislation still has not yet moved forward.

In the meantime, HPU has worked with the family to get the word out about safety.

HPU will hold what they are calling “Helmet Night” Saturday, Feb. 9, at Blaisdell Arena.

Every child in attendance will receive a free bicycle/skateboarding safety helmet at the conclusion of the men’s basketball game against Point Loma (while supplies last).

The game starts at 5 p.m.

“HPU started this idea. They’ve been wonderful,” Kathleen says. “I know people now who wear a helmet and it helped save their life. The helmet cracked, but not their head.”

Kathleen holds on to the memory of her son playing basketball. “It was his life,” she says. “I watched every game. Now, I come to the games and watch Kawika Lyons (Kameron’s roommate). The other day I went to Punahou because the water boy when Kameron played is now on the team. All the memories came flooding back.”

Helmet Night will help her, as it will help others. One new fan who may be in attendance is her new grandson who is just 6 weeks old, born on Dec. 19. He’s the son of Kathleen’s eldest son Keoni, the former UH football player, and his wife Ipo.

“They named him Kameron,” she says, approvingly. “So there’s now another Kameron Steinhoff. He’s got big feet and long fingers just like his uncle.”

You can hear the smile in her voice.

For more information about Helmet Night, contact HPU athletics at 356-5223.

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