South Walton Football Players get Gift from Local Foundation

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SOUTH WALTON It's a way for them to remember their son.

"We are trying to make the best of it, and ensure this doesn't happen again,” said Kathy Haugen.

On August 29th, 2008, Niceville sophomore wide receiver Taylor Haugen collided with two Fort Walton Beach football players during a preseason classic.

He suffered a lacerated liver and died the next day.

His parents Brian and Kathy Haugen vowed to keep other parents from suffering the same type of tragedy.

They formed the Taylor Haugen Foundation, and have spent their time educating players, coaches and parents on the importance of abdominal safety during contact sports.

"Let the parents know this is out there, so that they can better protect their child as well,” said Brian Haugen.

The Haugen’s also partnered with the company EVOSHIELD, which makes a form-fitting torso protector called the rib shirt.

"There are slits within the shirt that slide the shield in and mold from what we call gel to shell, which is from a gel to hard substance that hardens within 25 to 30 minutes,” said Chris Zeller of EvoShield.

The Haugen's have given the product to 2,000 athletes.

"We were very blessed to get a grant, and that provided us the monetary ability to outfit every secondary middle and high school for football, baseball and softball, for Walton and Okaloosa counties, and we will push forward to do that,” said Brian Haugen.

Tuesday they stopped by South Walton High School to equip another team with the new shirts.

"How does it feel?"

"It feels comfortable,” said one player.

"As coaches we want our kids to be safe,” said Head Coach Phil Tisa. “And at the same time protective equipment is expensive. So the fact they are able to do this and provide this for our kids, is a huge benefit."

The Haugen’s hope to take their foundation to the national level, letting other parents who've been through a similar situation know that they are not alone.

The Haugen's passed out close to 70 rib shirts to South Walton High football players Tuesday.