A Wasaga Beach mom is creating a legacy for her drowned son
A Wasaga Beach mom is turning a personal tragedy into a project to help save the lives of other children.
"My husband wears them, and I make tons and tons of different colours,” says Melissa Haskett.
She started making the bracelets on nights when she couldn’t sleep. The past year has been hard on Haskett and her family. Last July, her nine-year-old son Zack drowned in the Nottawasaga River.
“Instead of thinking, I just started doing the bracelets and that took off,” Haskett says. “After two months, after making so many bracelets, I thought, what am I going to do with them?”
Haskett is turning half the profits from the bracelets to benefit kids’ swimming programs at the YMCA. Zack’s parents didn’t know where he was that day. He’d told them he was out riding his bike with friends. Instead, the kids went to the water.
Zack wasn’t a strong swimmer. In fact, his mom says he was afraid of the water.
“He fell in the pool at daycare at a year and a half, and that experience just stuck with him,” Haskett says. “And we did put him in the YMCA swimming lessons and every time he had to put his head under the water, he didn't like it. It would bring panic back and he didn't want to go anymore.”
She pulled Zack out of those swimming lessons. She wishes she hadn’t. In fact, she says she would have started swimming lessons at a younger age.
So, knowing not every family can afford swimming lessons, Haskett decided she wanted to help. She's selling the bracelets to pay for swimming lessons at the Wasaga Beach YMCA for kids who can't afford them.
Val Dickson, general manager at the YMCA, is praising Haskett.
“My accolades to her for the strength she has as a mom, to move forward and do something so impactful for other families in this community; it's tremendous,” Dickson says.
In the two weeks Zack’s mom has been doing this, 11 kids have had their lessons paid for. She's sold more than 600, shipping them out across Canada and even the US. They cost $4 each and can be purchased through her Facebook page.
She'd like to see as many kids as possible receive swimming lessons.
“We teach stuff like floating, some basic swim strokes, treading water,” says lifeguard Jesse Ramson. “Those are the main, core things and then we can also branch off and teach some fun aspects of swimming.”
The hope is that Zack's legacy will live on in his community and these swimming lessons will help others.
“My son was such a kind kid, so he would do the same thing if he was here,” Haskett says.