In 2009, Lisa Berry experienced every parent’s worst nightmare. Her four-year old daughter Lainey “Bug” died in a drowning accident at a friend’s pool.
In the years that followed the loss of her beloved daughter, the Mansfield mom endured a difficult grieving process. Eventually, she discovered a way to cope with the unthinkable tragedy.
By focusing on saving lives through promoting water safety awareness in the community, Berry began the healing process. That’s how Swim for Bug began.
“It was God’s way of helping me cope with the loss of my daughter,” Berry said.
Swim for Bug raises money to provide swim lessons for children, teens and adults, lifeguard and CPR training, and life jackets for those in need. At the event, kids can sign up to receive free lessons. Lessons are held whichever pool they want: Gibson City, Sholem, Farmer City, Rantoul – the pool closest to them.
With the highest rate of drowning for children between the ages of 1 and 4 years old, Berry said “the earlier we can get them in for swim lessons the better.”
“I really want to provide swim lessons and swim safety awareness. I just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” she said.
Berry started Swim for Bug five years ago by asking for donations on Facebook. In its first year, Berry was able to raise enough money to provide swim lessons for five children.
But the fundraiser has grown into a much larger event, raising even more money for swim safety awareness. Last year, she was able to send 30 children to swim lessons and two teens to lifeguard training, free of charge.
“I would like for us to continue to provide as many swim lessons as possible. We’ve never had to turn anyone away and I’d never want to turn anyone away,” Berry said.
The Swim for Bug event will be held Sunday, June 2 from 12-4 p.m. at Rotary Hill Shelter at Lake of the Woods Golf Course in Mahomet. The day will include special guests, music, food, games, raffles, a silent auction and more.
Swim lesson sign-ups will be offered at the event and free life jackets will be handed out.
Lainey “Bug” would have been 14 years old this year. Berry said Swim for Bug is one way her daughter’s death wasn’t in vain. “She was here and she mattered and she had a purpose in life.”
Donations to Swim for Bug can be mailed to Lisa Berry at 605 W. State Street in Mansfield, IL 61854. First Mid Bank and Trust in Mahomet also accepts donations payable to Swim for Bug.