Benoit study spurs launch of Sports Legacy Institute

NEW YORK: Working with Widmeyer Communications, the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) announced its creation last month by leveraging its high-profile study of ex-pro wrestler Chris Benoit's brain.

NEW YORK: Working with Widmeyer Communications, the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) announced its creation last month by leveraging its high-profile study of ex-pro wrestler Chris Benoit's brain.

The new group, which plans to study the long-term effects of head injuries in sports, launched at a New York press conference to announce the results of its tests on Benoit. Dr. Julian Bailes, a professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine and one of SLI's founders, said the hope was to use the study results as a communication tool to raise awareness for a problem they still don't fully understand.

This past June, Benoit killed his wife and son before committing suicide. Researchers believe a type of brain damage called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy may have played a role in the tragedy.

"We realized that we had to use a case such as this to launch our institute," Bailes said. "We [have] to raise awareness for the need for additional research."

Widmeyer helped SLI launch a Web site, and doctors followed the press conference with interviews on Good Morning America, Nightline, and Larry King Live.

Patrick Brady, VP at Widmeyer, said that in addition to media relations following the event, the agency is also drafting a broad communications plan for the new group. That two-year plan will be presented to the new organization in the coming weeks.

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