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Fort Worth mom to receive national award for drowning prevention advocacy

Misty Vento of Fort Worth will receive the 2017 Community Lifesaver Award, given by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, to honor her volunteer efforts to advance water safety and drowning prevention on the community level, the Fort Worth Drowning Prevention Coalition said in a news release.

The award will be presented to Vento at the national group’s annual meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Vento will be present to receive her award.

Vento’s advocacy arose from tragedy. On a sunny summer day in August 2012, Vento took her three children to a local pool, including her 4-year-old son, Xander. All three knew how to swim and were comfortable in the water, and Vento stood poolside while Xander enjoyed the water with friends.

When another child called to her for help with a snack, however, she turned away from the pool for a moment. It was to be a moment too long. Xander’s friend, a 3-year-old girl, had begun to drown. Xander rushed to help. He grasped her and held her head above the water so she could breathe, even though it meant that he could not. He saved her life, but lost his own.

To honor Xander’s life and to prevent another family from experiencing a similar tragedy, Vento has dedicated herself to drowning prevention education, the news release said.

For the past four years, she has shared her story with parents, children and educators through personal appearances and videos. Her message includes the important lifesaving strategy, “Yell, Go Tell” – a message to children to seek help immediately for any problem in the water.

“I am so grateful and honored to receive this award,” Vento says. “I know my son is very proud of the work I do – he was a truly selfless and loving little boy, and I hope his story will continue to touch families and help them to be more aware around the water.”

Through her advocacy, “Xander’s life continues to make a difference,” she says. “He is and will always be my inspiration.”

Vento was nominated for the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s prestigious award by the Fort Worth Drowning Prevention Coalition, which partners with Vento in its outreach efforts throughout Tarrant County.

Every day, approximately 10 people die from accidental drownings in the United States, and drowning is the leading cause of accidental deaths in children 4 and under, the coalition release said.

Tarrant County ranks third in the state for pediatric drownings. Since its founding in 2013, the FWDPC’s drowning prevention programs have taught more than 1,100 non-swimmers to be safer in and around water. It has awarded 651 learn-to-swim scholarships, distributed more than 1,100 life jackets and engaged 440 volunteers who have spent more than $6,000 on pool decks delivering life-saving skills to children and adults.

The FWDPC’s free summer water safety classes resume this summer and will run May, June and July at three Fort Worth-area pools.

For more information: fwdpc.org or facebook.com/fwdpc

¬– FWBP Staff

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