Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Jump in for Joplin
Three years ago I had the privilege of writing for SwimNetwork.com. During my time with SwimNetwork, I travelled to Omaha to cover the USA Swimming Olympic Trials. Needless-to-say, I had an amazing time being up-close and personal with so many fabulous Olympic swimmers. I watched World Records tumble as Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin and Ryan Lochte competed through the week. It was awesome. As fabulous as that week was, swimming-wise, the very best part of my SwimNetwork experience was getting to meet so many fantastically-committed swim coaches and fans and to work with a whole big bunch of talented writers who are passionate about the sport of swimming. One such coach and writer is a man named Shawn Klosterman. I have never met Shawn in person, but he was one of my biggest fans while I wrote for SwimNetwork, and we have since become friends through e-mail and Facebook.
As you know, the city of Joplin, MO was devastated by tornadoes that ripped through their community on May 22. I'm sure you remember the coverage--the pictures of the wreckage were hard to look at. When I realized that Joplin was were Shawn lives and coaches, I knew I wanted to do something to help. I contacted Shawn in the days after the storms. As you can imagine, life was chaotic for Shawn at that time; several of Shawn's swimmers lost their homes, and one lost a grandfather. One thing he did mention was how much he appreciated the outpouring of support he was receiving from the swim community. Like so many sports, the swim community as a whole is an incredibly supportive group. I am proud to be part of it. I knew the swim community up here in Wisconsin would want to help out, too, so I organized a fundraiser called "Jump in for Joplin" which will take place tomorrow night. My little team will host swimmers from all over the Fox Valley. Our hope is to collect as many cash and equipment donations as possible to send down to Shawn's team, the Jasper County Killer Whales. The best part of this whole thing has been the response I've received from other local swim teams. The Y team, FCYST, literally jumped at the chance to be part of our fundraiser. They have thrown their support behind us 100%. I am so proud of the response from our local swimmers. It makes my heart so happy.
I heard from Shawn last week. He said that the FEMA trailers have finally arrived (can you imagine being without your own place from May 22-until July???), but most of the relief effort has been turned over to the local chapters. He has been so impressed by how his community has come together in the face of this tragedy. But make no mistake, Joplin is still hurting.
Tomorrow night, swimmers from all over my area will gather to swim and race each other and have fun. At the end of the night we will box up the donations and some happiness to send down to Joplin. I hope they feel love and support from Wisconsin.
Posted by Vicki at 10:57 AM