Giant helmets a fan favorite

Football fans enjoy taking photos with the helmet. Former Detroit Lions running back Billy Sims, right, met Strickland during the Giant Helmet commotion at Ford Field. COURTESY/STEVE STRICKLAND

OU News Bureau

When 23-year-old cystic fibrosis patient Steven Strickland puts his mind to something, big things can happen.

Strickland of Sterling Heights founded Giant Helmet, which creates large sports helmets up to 8 feet high for fans to gather around and inside for photographs. Giant Helmet displayed the Red Wings helmet in April 2016 and debuted the Detroit Lions helmet this year.

“The line was insane,” Strickland said. “This is all for the fans.”

In 2014, Strickland worked with his cousin, Gerald McLaughlin of Pickering, Ontario, and his airbrush company, VooDoo Air. The fiberglass helmets are built from a wax mold and then painted. Hand-bent pipe is welded on to create the face mask. It takes up to seven days  to produce one.

“It was just a beautiful thing to look at, I’d never seen it in the states.” Strickland said.

The Red Wings Giant Helmet debuted during the first playoff game of the 2016 season at Joe Louis Arena. COURTESY/STEVE STRICKLAND

McLaughlin and his company have built and sold more than 400 giant helmets in Canada.

“We had to develop all of this stuff while making the product,” McLaughlin said, “It was a learning curve. The first ones took a while to get over the curve. But it’s pretty much the same process as making a boat.”

In 2015, Strickland called McLaughlin and asked permission to be the founder of Giant Helmet in the states.

“He wanted to bring them here to the states, but he didn’t have time to move the product,” Strickland said, “I had been involved early 2013 and 2014. But I could no longer help because of things going on in my life. Other things required my attention.”

Strickland has battled cystic fibrosis since he was 11 weeks old. Strickland took on another battle when he was hospitalized in November 2014. He was surviving on 30 percent lung function, weighed 106 pounds and caught a bacterial infection called mycobacterium abscessus.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects mostly the lungs, pancreas and reproductive system. Long-term issues include difficulty breathing and frequent lung infections. The average lifespan of a patient is mid-30s.

The treatment for Strickland’s infection went on for 23 months.

“I didn’t think I had a lot of time, I battled a bacterial infection for a year. The sickness pushed me closer to Giant Helmet. Not money, not time, but the fact that Giant Helmet can make me immortal,” Strickland said, “Cystic fibrosis messed with the wrong guy.”

Strickland is a one-person, self-funded company. Products and partnerships are in the pipeline to expand Giant Helmet and involve communities and schools.

“I can create something beautiful and timeless. That’s the goal of Giant Helmet,” Strickland said, “I want these products to be special, unique and limited. My goal is not to sell the helmets, but to give them away. Giant Helmet will do this by selling other products that will fuel the giveaway of these colossal pieces of art.”

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Posted by on Feb 10 2017. Filed under Featured article, Macomb C.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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