This week, the Government Employees Health Organization (GEHA) and the Hunt Family Foundation announced a $10,000 donation to the Delaney 37 Foundation, funding swimming lessons for children in Haughton, Lousiana. Haughton is the hometown of Joe Delaney, a Kansas City Chiefs running back who died in 1983 trying to save three children from drowning. The Delaney 37 Foundation was created in his honor.
“As we expand our efforts with The Hunt Family Foundation and the YMCA of Greater Kansas City to ensure that children are safe through the Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program, presented by GEHA, it is fitting that we extend our efforts to Delaney’s hometown and the programs of the Delaney 37 Foundation that honor his memory,” said Art Nizza, DSW, the GEHA President and CEO in a press release.
“With swimming and aquatics water safety programs, we have an opportunity to conquer an unacceptable threat to underrepresented youth today and to address an injustice of the past.”
This isn’t the first time that GEHA has helped children learn to swim. After the death of 13-year-old Kansas City resident Emmanuel Solomon two years ago, GEHA provided 200 students with swim lessons and equipment. The lessons took place at Parkwood pool, the site of the tragedy and the only public pool in the area.
It was so successful that they’ve since expanded the program to be available in more Kansas City neighborhoods. Currently, GEHA and the Hunt Family Foundation provide support for 650 children to receive swim lessons and equipment.
A 2017 USA Swimming Foundation study found that 64% of Black children in the U.S. cannot swim and are six times more likely to drown than their white counterparts. Aware of this reality, part of GEHA’s $10,000 donation will go towards transporting kids to and from the pool. As the nearest pool to Haughton is 20 minutes away in Bossier City, this creates equity by helping children who otherwise couldn’t get there learn to swim. The rest of the money funds a series of swimming lessons and aquatic safety programs.
“If my dad saw a need, he was going to step in and help,” said Joanna Noel, Joe Delaney’s youngest daughter and the Delaney 37 Foundation leader.
“My father would be proud of the work that is being done in his name by GEHA and The Hunt Family Foundation to make swimming safer for many families.”