On Saturday, June 6, 2016, just a few weeks following Abby Grace’s Hope’s first anniversary of existence, over 150 participants arrived on the campus of Florida Polytechnic University. In what began just a little over a year ago of hope to fund 3 children’s survival swim instruction, over 15 children swam over the summer of 2014 across Polk County and into surrounding counties across Central Florida. We’re amazed and completely overwhelmed to have had the honor of distributing more than double this amount of scholarships this past Saturday for the Summer of 2015!
In just five years, Florida has lost enough children to fill half of an elementary school. This number is absolutely staggering and heartbreaking, especially when you realize just how previous each and every one of these children are. In just a short year, our family has been touched with two such children, right here at home. We were honored to be joined by the Watson/Raulerson and Maycumber Families. Each of these families have suffered the most devastating outcome of a drowning, in complete loss and as close as we came with Abby, we know, we could in no way understand what these families have and continue to go through in their losses. These children are precious to us and certainly live on in the missions of our family and AGH. As part of the days events a special tribute was made as participants joined together in remembrance of Travis Maycumber and Raylee Watson, as we sent a whole lot of love their way! (In the days leading up to this event, my son Jacob was with me as I was putting together the final details for the balloon release. At one point, he asked “Mommy, do you think these balloons will make to heaven” and I responded: “I’m not sure they’ll make it all the way to heaven, but we know without a doubt these precious ones will see and feel the love and will be overjoyed as those balloons head their way!!” And with that – they were off. These precious babies made their presence well known in a special picture captured by Officer Danny Houser of the Polytechnic Campus Police! Join us in keeping these families and so many more across the state and nation in your thoughts and prayers!
It’s was a true honor to attend this event in the midst of so many incredible folks, from AGH team members, local swim instructors to incredible supporters and equally important- the families who acknowledge the very real dangers of water and have gone above and beyond to insure children remain safe in and around water!
This event took place on the absolutely beautiful campus of Florida Polytechnic University through support and partnerships with Florida Poly and the Florida Poly Police Department. We are so incredibly grateful not only for their support of our mission, but their wonderful hospitality while hosting us in such an amazing venue!! We also thank our amazing sponsors and supporters including Nick with Florida Emergency Vehicle Equipment and Repair, Anytime Fitness, the Givewell Community Foundation, Stew Leonard III Children Charities, Sweet Magnolias Tea & Bistro, Bethany May Photography, Browns Stucco, Peebles BBQ, IBEW Local 222, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 46, Bryce’s Buddies - Juvenile Diabetes Foundation/ Winging' It Festival, Travis Maycumber Memorial, Winter Haven Aquatics, Central Florida Pest Management, Robert Peet Roofing, and so many more! A special thanks goes out to Dennis Warren, sergeant with the PCSO who raised over $3,000 towards the Swim Scholarship fund with a challenge of lifting 40,000 pounds within 4 hours and swept right past that goal by lifting over 70,000 pounds!!! HUGE thanks to Dennis and his many supporters inside the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and out for the incredible support! We also thank Denise who is donating her instruction time for a handful of scholarship recipients.
Ramon Gonzalez from Polk Fire Rescue for volunteering his translating services for the event and to the AGH Team who works so passionately to keep Abby Graces Hope afloat and building steam in the mission against childhood drowning!
Thank you to each and every supporter – without you, our missions are nothing but hopes and dreams – you help make them a reality and are paving the way to many more Lives Saved, One Child at a Time!
While the funds in our scholarship account have now been allocated, the requests keep coming in. AGH will continue to fund scholarships throughout the summer with additional funds that come in. If you’d like to help (truly, any amount makes a BIG difference), you can donate via pay-pal here or e-mail AbbyGracesHope@gmail.com for our sponsorship details.
Rachel Warren publishes the majority of Blog postings for AGH, is a strong advocate for water safety and related injury prevention working tirelessly at the county and state levels to strengthen and improve water safety campaigns, initiatives and promote these campaigns through community outreach programs of AGH.