Lincoln couple promotes water safety

By: Lauren Fabrizi

On June 4, 2008, Blake and Kathy Collingsworth lost their two-year-old son, Joshua, to a drowning accident.

Since then, they’ve made it their priority to make sure no other family has to go through what they did.

“We don’t want a tragedy to be necessary to alert people to consider water safety,” Kathy Collingsworth, Joshua’s mother, said.

So they founded the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation to promote water safety and to encourage children to learn how to swim at an early age. Through their character of Josh the Baby Otter, they hope the children’s book they’ve written will get kids excited to learn. 

Six years later, the couple’s message has made its way across the United States, and has even reached other countries.

 “It’s pulling us,” Blake Collingsworth, Joshua’s father, said. “We’re not having to push it that hard. It’s amazing.”

Olympic great Michael Phelps’ mother, Debbie, has gotten wind of it, too. She was the keynote speaker at Saturday’s 6th annual benefit.

“I applaud you for all your work that you do for our children through education,” Debbie Phelps said.

The benefit featured a live and silent auction, with nearly 300 people in attendance.

 Blake and Kathy said they’re confident that someday Josh the Otter will have as big of an impact as Smokey the Bear.

“We felt that it’s going to be Joshua’s legacy,” Blake said.

The mayor and governor have both proclaimed May 10 Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation and Water Safety Day. The family expects to raise about $85,000.