A really nice person from HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel contacted a while ago us about a story they were working on. They had come across the recent research and were appalled by the raw numbers reflecting the drowning rate of Blacks and Hispanics. We often get calls from media folks who are pursuing their stories. We welcome these calls and always hope that they will come see our program, our kids, our families, our volunteers, their families, our coaches and our community.
We have something very special that goes on here. I am convinced that it is just a matter of time before someone in the national media takes notice. This is not a matter of vanity. Nor do I believe that it is about me at all. I just know that there is no way that anyone can look at these faces, these genuine smiles and not be moved. Each Saturday night we have a unique combination of young people, from various ethnic groups and socio-economic backgrounds working together to break the cycle of drowning.
Just as important as the activity in the water is the networking that happens in the stands. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all gather together in support of their children. And I have found that each and every family has a story. And with each story I become even more blessed to be able to play a small in helping to bring everyone together. Nadar Por Vida concentrates on reaching out to Latinos because as a 1st generation Mexican-American it is what I know best. BUT we welcome all children, all families with a target of children of color and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
During the course of our discussions with our Real Sports contact we were asked to find out if anyone had any stories related to the trauma of drowning. With over 100 families to choose from, I randomly called a family who first said that they knew of no stories…but later shared the shared the following. All I can tell say after learning of this story is, I am proud to live in such an ethnically diverse community. I am proud that we can appreciate and respect the experience of others. This the story from one of my parents:
You have heard of Vietnamese boat people - right? These were wave of people braved the water on tiny boat seeking freedom from the oppressive Vietnam communism. People were escaping Vietnam as early as mid 80', and sadly the death tolls were extremely high. Most of the deaths were results from drowning because boats were capsized.
My father and our oldest brother, both didn't know how to swim, had opted to escape the Vietnam by land route because the drowning casualties were simply too high. To make the long story short, they left Vietnam in '79 and have been missing since. I guess what I'm saying here is my father could have opted to take the water route if he & my brother knew how to swim - and I'm not suggesting that the water route would have been a safer route. My dad's escape decision was in many way was driven by his lack of swimming
And if I continue to ask the same question of my other families, can you imagine how many more stories can be shared? I will try to do more to show you a glimpse of my families of whom I am so proud. Thank you Real Sports for considering our stories. I would not have thought to ask this question without you!
I originally wrote this just after HBO decided that they wanted to emphasize only the black portion of the drowning statistics. HBO went ahead with a good story emphasizing the "Black" drowning epedemic. We never heard from them again. The unfortunate part is the story of the needless loss of lives in the Latino community and the loss of lives in the Vietnamese community and in those communities in the middle east are just as compelling and just as tragic. The non minority community likes to lump the pain of all of our different minority groups and say they understand. Of course it does not work that way. Every loss, every needless life that is lost because of our failure to make them water safe is a terrible waste because it is preventable.
The catastrophic loss of lives is not a Black issue...it is an American one!
Nadar Por Vida – affecting families' one bubble at a time!