From Shore to Shore
It’s been two years since the launch of our Community Heroes grant program. And in that time, we’ve had the pleasure of supporting eight – and counting – local organizations in their quest to empower and uplift the communities where they live and work.
For a deeper look into who these organizations are, this blog series will focus on the inspirational stories behind some of the 2018 and 2019 Gexa Community Heroes grant winners and their invaluable contributions in and around the local community.
When we think of summertime, we think of sunshine and ice cream, of bicycles and cookouts, and perhaps, most prominently, of water. But what we may not always think about is the importance of water safety – and how big a difference it can make in the course of a person’s life.
Grandmother Tracey Terasas knows this all too well. On July 7, 2013, she lost her three-and-a-half-year-old grandson, Wyatt, to accidental drowning. “My son and my grandchildren were at the lake, and in a five-second turnaround, Wyatt went under,” she says. “Wyatt did not come home with my son that day.” At the hospital, Tracey’s son asked her for the favor that would spur her into action: He asked that she work with him to make sure that this never happen to another child. And so, she created Remembering Wyatt Dale: Water Safety Awareness.
Remembering Wyatt Dale is a nonprofit organization that champions water safety by providing life jackets, awareness training, and swim scholarships to children throughout Graham, Texas, and beyond. Since its inception, the organization has given out approximately 3,000 life jackets to children in the area. With annual awareness events like Fun in the Sun, Tracey and her team partner with other members of the community to create educational water safety exercises in which children can participate to earn life jackets of their own.
That’s in addition to the swimming lessons and scholarships she provides. “We put in a pool at our home two years ago specifically for that reason – so I could sponsor whomever I wanted to.” And starting April 1, 2019, The Grand Regional Medical Center will open its doors – and its pool – to her cause, allowing her to hold swimming lessons on the premises.
Over the years, Remembering Wyatt Dale’s impact has grown to extend beyond Graham – spreading into areas such as Fort Worth and Dallas. “If we hear of a family that needs, or a family that has lost a child to drowning, I contact them and offer to sponsor a swim lesson,” Tracey says. The nonprofit is 100% funded by individual donations – and the community has rallied around her, providing both resources and support. Indeed, it was a supportive community member who nominated Remembering Wyatt Dale for this year’s Gexa Community Heroes grant – a grant which Tracey was thrilled to receive. She used the money to invest in even more life jackets for children. “Last year, we bought 600 life jackets, so every little bit counts,” Tracey says. “Our goal this year is 700.”
In 2019, Tracey hopes to create more loaner stations at the local lake, and she looks forward to hosting double the water safety awareness events. And, of course, she wants to continue to spread the word as far as she possibly can: “From shore to shore, we want people to know Wyatt’s name and his story.”
To learn more about Remember Wyatt Dale: Water Safety Awareness, visit https://rememberingwyattdale.org/