The readers’ forum

Firefighters volunteering to help kids swim


Every now and then, we stumble upon something that is memorable, breathtaking or admirable. We tuck these experiences in our minds to ponder and relish if we are fortunate enough to grow old and enjoy the comfort of our well-earned rocking chair.

I have stumbled upon that one thing.

It is a group of about 20 dedicated firefighters who come together from fire departments throughout Miami-Dade County to volunteer to teach youngsters how to swim. It is the most amazing sight to see these professional men and women, whose job is to save lives for a living, give their time to teach children a skill that could one day save their lives.

As a mother, this summer swimming program offered by the Progressive Firefighters Association Charities, Inc. has been life-changing for my four children. Just weeks ago during my daughter’s 13th birthday party, she nearly drowned in a pool right before my eyes because she couldn’t swim.

She had inadvertently drifted off into the deeper end while playing with friends. Luckily, one friend who was nearby pulled her up by her arm to safety. It is a moment that neither she, nor I, will ever forget.

That’s why when I heard about the firefighters’ free 10-week swimming program offered at the Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Complex, I enrolled my four children.

Not one of them could swim. Today all of them can. Can you guess which one is the best swimmer? Of course, the one who almost lost her life.

Today I have peace of mind knowing they have a much better chance of not becoming one of Florida’s drowning statistics.

These heroes volunteer Monday through Thursday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon. Not only do they teach a life skill, but they also are positive role models to the children who attend this program.

It is my greatest desire to see these friends of the community be given tremendous support as they expand to help more kids. Keith Bell, president of Progressive Firefighters Charities, has a beautiful vision for the future. I encourage members of the community to reach out to him and this awesome organization. Whether they need access to pool facilities and classrooms, more community awareness, or a thumbs-up from the municipal leaders, it is the least we can do to keep them motivated and empowered and to express appreciation for their efforts in saving the lives of children.

Karen King,

Pembroke Pines

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