Warning: This article contains content regarding the loss of a child.
The month of May is designated as Drowning Awareness month. In honor of this, APi will share information related to drowning prevention and awareness as well as water safety tips to insure you have an enjoyable and safe summer. To kick off this month, we would like to spotlight a foundation that we began supporting about three years ago, The Live Like Jake Foundation. Read on for the Morrison’s story and how they took a parent’s worst nightmare and turned it into an outreach that would help families avoid a similar fate.
A parent’s worst nightmare…
It was supposed to be a fun Thanksgiving weekend trip that started on Thursday, November 28, 2013 at Keri’s father’s house in Orlando where we ate lots of turkey and stuffing then stayed the night at a hotel on International Drive. We woke up and had a big breakfast at Denny’s with my dad and stepmom. We were going to go play some mini golf but got stuck in serious traffic on I-drive so we decided to skip it. We then headed over to New Smyrna Beach where Roarke’s sister Robin and her husband Jim live to finish off our Thanksgiving weekend. We woke up Saturday morning November 30, 2013 and had a great day. Robin and Jim went and got their beautiful Christmas tree and we just played with all the kids. Then just after 6 pm the last words ANY parent ever wants to hear “where is Jake?” Keri was in the other room nursing our precious little daughter Julia who was 12 weeks old at the time when we heard those words that have forever changed our lives. Jake slipped out the back door in the pitch dark and fell off the dock into the intracoastal. There was so much screaming going on because we knew he was in there, but it was so dark we could not see anything. We have never felt so helpless in our entire life knowing that our baby needed us more than ever and we could not save him. Roarke and Jim were going up and down the docks on the Jet Ski until finally Jim found Jake and the ambulance quickly took him to the hospital, but they were not able to revive him. Roarke and I were in the room with him while they tried so hard to bring him back to us. We still can remember EVERY second so clearly and screaming for our baby to come back all the well knowing that he had gone straight to Heaven. I hope that no parent EVER has to go through what we have gone through and that is why we are so passionate about drowning prevention and also helping other families who have either lost a child or have a child that has had a near drowning and is in hospital care. We wanted to share our story because we know a lot of you only know that Jake drowned but did not know how and where. We do not own a pool and do not live on the water, so we weren’t in a real hurry with the swim lessons although he did take lessons over the summer. He was not really taking to it and we were just going to try again next year when he was a little older and more cooperative. Our situation is different than most drowning cases because it was not a pool so whether his life would have been spared if he had done ISR lessons we will never know and that still makes us so sad every day thinking of it. We beg of you if you have a child that does not know how to self-rescue and is over 6 months old please please please get them in lessons. Also, when you are on vacation in a different environment please be aware of your surroundings at ALL times because it only takes a few seconds for them to sneak away. We have gone to Robin and Jim’s home countless times with Jake and although we were always nervous of the water and made him wear a life jacket while on the dock, we NEVER imagined he would go out there by himself especially at night.”
(Taken from the Live Like Jake Facebook page)
The Live Like Jake Foundation was created by Keri and Roarke Morrison after their son, Jake passed away as a result of a drowning accident. One of the foundation’s main missions is to promote drowning awareness and water safety. They do this by offering scholarships to families to provide ISR (Infant Self Rescue) classes. They also help families pay for hospital stays and funeral expenses related to drowning accidents. The money is raised through several community events as well as private donations. One of their largest events is a 5k race traditionally held in May, on Mother’s Day weekend. Due to COVID 19, this year’s race has been postponed to August 2020. Team APi will be in attendance for the 4th year in a row!
For more information on the Live Like Jake Foundation, follow them on Facebook or visit their website, www.livelikejake5k.com. If you would like to donate, checks can be sent to: Live Like Jake Foundation Inc PO Box 31652, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420. Proceeds go to provide scholarships for self-rescue swim lessons for families that cannot afford them as well as provide financial assistance for medical and funeral expenses after a drowning accident.