Two years from the day our lives would change forever. The day our biggest fear became reality as we held our precious baby girl lifeless in our hands; in complete shock of the accident that happened so fast and in complete silence. There’s a lot of very difficult emotions that continue to be a struggle at times; but there’s one moment of light and an undoubtable presence that has followed us from that day and is the very reason Abby Grace’s Hope was founded. As my husband and brother in-law performed CPR on Abby’s swollen, blue and pulseless little body, I could feel the chances of her survival slipping quickly from our reach as each rep was completed to no avail. I can honestly tell you without a doubt that Abby should not be here today. You see, I witnessed a drowning incident at a very early age, the same exact scene of that accident exactly matched Abby’s scene. I knew the signs, I knew the outcome - all I could do was pray for the Lord’s helping hand and grace in our situation. “Please, God - please help our baby girl, for whatever reason this happened, I’m at your mercy - please help her”.
It was not more than a minute into that prayer that Abby started attempting very very struggled breaths. I can’t even begin to explain the enormous emotion in watching her take those breaths, realizing what just happened, the possibility that she may survive this after all, followed by the fear of what her long-term outcome would be and at the same time, not even caring as long as she was still with us.
She was life-flighted and admitted to PICU, Abby regained her ability to breath on her own, but she was still unable to control her muscles (was totally limp) and while I know she recognized me as she would calm when I laid with her and held her, when I looked into her eyes - there was nothing there. I’ll never forget the doctor that walked in, clearly upset by her accident, looking me dead in the eye and telling me as I held my baby that "we got ‘lucky’, this accident was 100% preventable”. (I do hope to run across that doctor again soon, especially with all I’ve learned over the past few years in water safety and drowning prevention). You see, I have learned something some to realize: Drowning will never be 100% preventable, just as vehicle accidents will never be 100% preventable. When we get into a vehicle, we realize the risk of an accident - because we understand they are not always preventable, for that reason, we wear a seatbelt, we use caution, etc. For that same reason, we should understand that drowning is a very real possibility - it’s not always preventable (especially as long as human error exists) and we should all be taking every step possible to protect our families through multiple levels of protection, regardless of if you have a pool in your backyard (specific supervision, alarms, barriers, swim lessons and CPR skills). Abby is still here and made a miraculous recovery because one of those layers of protection worked (CPR Saves Lives!) and by the very Grace of God himself. (Huge gratitude as always also goes to her heroes on the scene and those who cared for her in the hospital!).
I truly believe Abby’s accident happened for a reason, her life holds great purpose and soon we would find ourselves flooded with drowning news/reports and community needs in the year following that event, we were floored by the knowledge of how large of a problem drowning is and so many areas that needed improvement to prevent other families from enduring what we had. Sometimes the Lord leads you, other times it’s a giant push and without any idea of running a non-profit or what impact we could have, my husband and I took a giant leap and founded AGH on May of 2014. Together with an incredible team, our very first order of business was raising funds for Survival Swim Scholarships for children in our community and within just a few short months after founding AGH, 14 children hit the pools around Polk County and Tampa to receive these lessons at no cost to them. This was just the beginning as the organization continues to move in ways we could have never expected.
Due to such continual, gracious and overwhelming support from our community, we are beyond excited to be offering our 2nd season of Swim Vouchers, the application is live on March 1st, 2015 and will run through April, 2015! *** If you or someone you know has or cares for young children - would you please share this story with them and encourage them to visit our website at www.WaterSafetyandSurvival.org to learn about all the layers of protection, and to submit an application for an AGH Survival Swim Scholarship if the reside in or around Polk County, FL and have the need? And for everyone else, would you please help support our mission by considering a donation of any amount or simply by sharing this awareness of water safety and need of support with others? We are completely reliant on community support and with your help, we’ll continue to make great strides in water safety and drowning prevention - “Saving Lives, One Child at a Time”. ~ Thank you in advance for your time and support! Rachel (Abby’s Mommy)
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.