GEHA & the Hunt Family Foundation Support Delaney 37 Foundation with $10,000
GEHA (Government Employees Health Association, Inc., pronounced G.E.H.A.) and The Hunt Family Foundation announced they will jointly fund swimming lessons for children in the hometown of legendary Kansas City Chiefs running back Joe Delaney.
GEHA and The Hunt Family Foundation are each giving $5,000 to the Delaney 37 Foundation. Organized by Delaney’s widow and daughters, the foundation provides children in the community around Haughton, Louisiana, with mentorship and education, including programs for water safety, financial literacy and leadership. The $10,000 from GEHA and The Hunt Family Foundation will be used to provide a series of weekly and monthly swimming lessons and aquatic safety programs to the community. To provide an equitable experience from start to finish, the funds will also be used for transportation to neighboring Bossier City, Louisiana, which is the closest swimming pool/facility to Haughton, Louisiana.
“If my dad saw a need, he was going to step in and help,” said Joanna Noel, youngest daughter of Joe Delaney and Delaney 37 Foundation leader. “My father would be proud of the work that is being done in his name by GEHA and The Hunt Family Foundation to make swimming safer for many families.”
On June 29, 1983, Joe Delaney lost his life while attempting to rescue three children from drowning in a pond in Monroe, Louisiana. Despite not being able to swim, he immediately entered the water to help – an effort that resulted in one child being saved.
“As we expand our efforts with The Hunt Family Foundation and the YMCA of Greater Kansas City to ensure that children are safe through the Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program, presented by GEHA, it is fitting that we extend our efforts to Delaney’s hometown and the programs of the Delaney 37 Foundation that honor his memory,” said Art Nizza, DSW, GEHA President and CEO. “With swimming and aquatics water safety programs, we have an opportunity to conquer an unacceptable threat to underrepresented youth today and to address an injustice of the past.”
According to a 2017 USA Swimming Foundation study, 64% of Black children in the U.S. cannot swim and are six times more likely to drown than White children. This inequity became a reality for Kansas City, Kansas residents following the heartbreaking death of 13-year-old Emmanuel Solomon in July 2021.
GEHA and partners, YMCA of Greater Kansas City, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, KS Public Schools, felt the impact of this tragedy and worked to address the disparities in aquatic education by providing 200 students with swim lessons the following summer at Parkwood Pool, the only public pool in Kansas City, KS and site of the tragedy. In addition, GEHA employees provided necessary equipment including a swimsuit, towel and goggles, for each participating child in need.
Notably, all children significantly improved their swimming and safety abilities despite only 38% having ever been fully submerged in the water and only 8% having previously received lessons.
Inspired by that success, in October 2022, GEHA and The Hunt Family Foundation collaborated to provide an additional $50,000 in order to expand the program to more neighborhoods in the Kansas City area with similar aquatic safety risks.
Because of this support, 650 additional students will now receive swimming lessons and swimming equipment at five Kansas City metro locations, including the North Kansas City YMCA, the Linwood YMCA/James B. Nutter, Sr. Community Center, the Cleaver Family YMCA, the Kirk Family YMCA and the Parkwood Pool. This expanded program is now recognized as the Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program, Presented by GEHA, where each student receives a swim towel bearing the Delaney tribute decal worn by the Kansas City Chiefs during the 1983 season.
“The work that the Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program, presented by GEHA, has done in our community to address water safety and access is truly inspiring,” Chiefs President Mark Donovan said. “To be able to work alongside our partners at GEHA, as well as Joe’s family, to launch the program with the Delaney 37 Foundation in his hometown and the surrounding areas speaks to the commitment of GEHA and the Hunt Family Foundation and further honors Joe’s heroic actions.”