It was a year ago this month that my friend, Shannon Hawkins, passed away after her long, brave battle with breast cancer. A swimming scholarship fund has been created in her memory. It's a perfect dedication since she taught kids how to swim and inspired them to love the sport as she did.
Shannon was one of those individuals who embraced life with gusto, never taking friends, family, time and life experiences for granted. She was more than an intensely loyal and dedicated friend; she was family. She lived on the East and West coasts, working in the TV and film industry as an Assistant Director in NY, LA and in between. She was a paralegal, an entrepreneur, a writer, and much more.
Throughout the years, Shannon taught swimming to kids at the local Y, wherever she lived, but most recently at the Washington DC YMCA. It is there that the memorial fund will be run in perpetuity and benefit kids who would not otherwise be able to take swimming classes for financial reasons. Sixty percent of African American and Hispanic/Latino children don’t know how to swim and are three times more likely to drown than white children. So knowing how to swim can be a lifesaving skill, not to mention a health benefit.
I would so appreciate your consideration in making a donation as a tribute to Shannon's life – you can read more about Shannon and the fund below.
And if you would like to spread the word to anyone you think would like to donate, please feel free to do so. (BTW, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month)
Steve Haddad wrote:
It’s hard to believe it has been nearly a year since our friend, family member, classmate, and colleague, Shannon Hawkins, passed away at the age of 43 after a seven-year battle with breast cancer. Those of us who knew Shannon understand that she would have wanted some good – something positive– to result from this tragedy.
In this spirit, we are proud to announce the establishment of The Shannon Hawkins Memorial Scholarship Fund for Youth & Teen Aquatics – an ongoing endowment fund to support swim instruction for underprivileged children through the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. To create this fund, we have already raised more than $22,000 – and today, we are asking for your help to take us to the finish line of $30,000.
For much of her life, Shannon was determined to “waterproof” kids – teaching them the basic survival skill of swimming and helping to transform a child’s fear of the water into certain joy and confidence. Even as she underwent rounds of chemotherapy treatment, and after a double mastectomy, she still gave youth swimming lessons at the local YMCA. Teaching children inspired Shannon – and in doing so, she has inspired us to find a way for her legacy of courage and grace to live on.
Shannon knew that 37 percent of all Americans report that they’re not good swimmers, while thirteen percent say they can’t swim at all. These numbers are even worse among minorities: a research study commissioned by USA Swimming showed that almost 60 percent of African American and Hispanic/Latino children don’t know how to swim and are three times more likely to drown than white children.
This fund will support youth and teens, aged 6 through 17, in participating in the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington’s aquatic programs. These scholarships will be awarded in Shannon’s memory to those who want to learn how to swim and to be safe in and around the water, but who have financial circumstances that would otherwise prevent them from participating in these programs.
We are asking all those whose lives were touched by Shannon to become a part of this dream, and your contribution will go a long way toward making this leap possible. Whatever gift you’re able to make – whether it’s $250, $100, $50, or even $25 – will help children learn these essential skills while keeping Shannon’s remarkable memory alive and kicking.