Lifesaving effort inspired by the loss of teenage boy who drowned.
By DAN KROSSE
With the summer heat cranking playing near the pond, up across the Lowcountry, many people will be looking to cool off with a swim. But did you know South Carolina is ranked #9 among the most at-risk states for drownings?
The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission’s (CCPRC) nonprofit partner, the Charleston County Parks Foundation is working hard to save lives by teaching as many people to swim as possible. Almost 4,000 people drown in the U.S. every year. The Genesis Swim Safety Fund has allowed CCPRC and their Foundation to introduce swimming to 400 children every summer throughout rural Charleston County, at times using a portable swimming pool.
“The program was sparked from the tragic drowning of a young man named Genesis Holmes who was playing with some friends near a pond in Hollywood,” said CCPRC Business Development Manager Matthew Rosebrock. “Genesis didn’t know how to swim and he fell in by following his friends.”
Genesis loved the outdoors and animals according to his mother Jennifer Holmes. At 13, he was already trying to save every stray animal he saw.
After the drowning, Rosebrock says Genesis’ mother turned her heartbreak into something amazing for the Charleston County community. She helped start the Genesis Swim Safety Program, and in 2019, the first rural swimming pool in the entire county was opened in Hollywood by CCPRC and named after Genesis.
“I am grateful for God’s strength that allowed me to carry on,” Jennifer Holmes said.” I was able to create a legacy for Genesis. I would never have imagined it.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
With a mission to improve the quality of life in Charleston County, CCPRC operates over 11,000 acres of property, including regional parks, beach parks, a historic plantation site, landmark fishing piers, waterparks, boat landings, a climbing wall, a challenge course, an interpretive center, an equestrian center, cottages, a campground, a marina, and event facilities. CCPRC also offers a variety of recreational services – festivals, camps, classes, programs, and dog parks.
The Charleston County Parks Foundation is the nonprofit arm of the parks that allows people to donate to programs that can further the park system’s mission. “We are looking to provide access to all residents, whether it be in McClellanville, Hollywood, inner-city North Charleston or downtown Charleston,” Rosebrock said.
You can give to the Genesis Swim Safety Program at CharlestonCountyParksFoundation.org.
When asked how the success of the swim program makes her feel, Genesis’ mother doesn’t hesitate, “I’m full of joy and my eyes are filled with tears of happiness! When I go to the Genesis Pool at the West County Aquatic Center and see so many children swimming, many of them will stop and shout to me, ‘Look Miss Holmes, I’m swimming!’”