Written by: Jeremy Baumhower
Over the weekend, an 8 year old boy drowned at Olander Park. It was the fourth drowning there since 1981.
Upon hearing the news, my heart stopped. My daughter is 8 years old and there were some immediate rumors that the child may have gone to the same school as my 2nd grader. Heartbreaking. It made an already awful feeling, hurt and effect me more. Learning the news the child was not a schoolmate did little to lift the blow to the gut that was previously delivered. A lot of parents felt punched with the loss of this child yesterday.
My children are fortunate, my parents own a pool. Learning how to swim is considered another lifetime achievement in that house; the accomplishment is held in the same regard as taking your first step and riding a bike. All four of my children know how to swim… and I still get nervous when they are in water. It only takes a couple of life-changing seconds, that’s all.
Some families and households never understand the importance of water safety and swim lessons. One of my favorite people in the world came from one of those households.
Wanda Butts’ father knew how to swim. When he was a young man he witnessed a drowning and decided he wouldn’t enter the water again. Wanda being raised in a house with zero focus on swimming, continued the tradition when she started her own family.
Tragedy struck years later when her teenaged son, Josh, drowned in Bird Lake in 2006
Wanda started The Josh Project to help facilitate swimming lessons to inner-city children at almost no-cost. In 2012 Wanda was honored by CNN as a Top 10 Hero. Last year I selected her to be honored in this is me.
Everyday she strives to save lives in Toledo’s inner city.
If you were affected by the the horrific news at Olander Park and want to make a difference… The Josh Project is always short on lifeguards who can teach and pool time for the kids to learn how to swim. It seems the first thing cut in times of budget crisis are the public pools in our inner city and neighborhoods that need them the most.
The Josh Project have the kids, the grants.. they are short on the teachers and the pools.
To help avoid further tragedies like what occurred at Olander park, please make sure your child knows how to swim. It may be one of the most important things you can ever teach them. If they are swimmers already, help make sure other children learn about the dangers of water, maybe they can become a swimmer as well.
To Donate to The Josh Project please visit their website