Water Rats and Staples swim teams host fund-raiser
Published 1:03 am, Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Swimmers of all backgrounds have an opportunity on Tuesday to help the victims of Haiti's earthquake. Three weeks to the day after an earthquake struck Port-au-Prince at 4:53 pm, the Staples and Westport Weston Family Y swim teams will simultaneously have a Swim for Haiti at their respective pools to raise money for the Save the Children Haitian relief efforts.
There is symbolic significance to staging "Swim for Haiti" exactly 21 days after the earthquake. More than half of Haiti's population is under the age of 21 years and children are at particular risk in the weeks ahead. That is why the Staples and Family Y swimmers decided to support the Westport-based Save the Children, which has been providing health, education and food to vulnerable Haitian children for 25 years.
Peggy Mevs, a native of Haiti who was born in Port-au-Prince, is the mother of Max Wimer, a Water Rat swimmer, and Gabby Wimer, who is both a Water Rat and Staples girls team swimmer. Mevs has family members who were affected by the earthquake, which has already claimed at least 150,000 lives.
Following the quake, Mevs feverishly tried to contact her family but to no avail. Then at 2 a.m., she received an e-mail from one of her cousins: "It has been the most unreal day in my whole life. The Montana Hotel and the Villa Creole Hotel have collapsed. Almost everything is destroyed. The family is ok. One niece with broken legs. Walked almost two hours to get home to my kids. Took me five to locate my wife. We are all together and fine. My brother-in-law's parents lost their house and kid nephew buried in it. We lost our gardener buried under a wall. So on. So much casualty. Are sleeping on the lawn at friends. Cannot get to my house. A collapsed building is blocking the road. Thanks for asking."
Mevs received one more message from her cousin before his BlackBerry battery died: "Haitians need as much help as they can get and they need it as soon as they can get it."
The personal connection and the overwhelming need is why Mevs and her husband Ronald Wimer have worked so hard since the earthquake to set-up a fundraiser. "I am thrilled with the response we got," she said. "Everybody at the Westport Weston Family Y and the Staples athletic department has been very supportive. The Water Rat coaches and the parents clubs of both teams have been amazing, spending a lot of time helping us with this effort."
The event is open to Masters Level and other qualified swimmers.
For detailed information about the event and how to make a donation, go to www.westporty.org and click on the Water Rat Swim Team link under Aquatics.