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YWCA Evanston/North Shore invites community to be part of 24-hour Oz Relay

Categories: News

Swimmers showing support
Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty (left), was one of the participants in the 2018 Oz Relay

The Flying Fish Aquatics program at YWCA Evanston/North Shore will hold its annual Oz Relay May 18 and 19 and invites the community to participate by swimming, sponsoring, or donating.

This annual event supports the organization’s “Oz Fund,” which provides financial assistance to children in YWCA’s Flying Fish Swim School whose families cannot afford the cost of life-saving swim instruction.

The “Oz Fund” is named for swim coach and instructor Oswald “Oz” Roper, who died in 2013 after serving as an integral part of the Flying Fish aquatics program for nearly 20 years.

“Oswald believed that all children should learn to swim and participate in aquatics, and not be limited by financial constraints,” said Pete Caragher, YWCA’s aquatics director and head coach of the Flying Fish swim team. “We honor him every year by raising money so all have kids access to swimming lessons at the YWCA.”

Research from the USA Swimming Foundation shows that 79 percent of children in low-income households, and 64 percent of African-American, 45 percent of Hispanic/Latino, and 40 percent of Caucasian children have little to no swimming ability. Formal swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88 percent, but lessons often come at a price inaccessible to many. YWCA Evanston/North Shore is committed to changing these statistics; the organization provides financial assistance to one in every three children taking lessons at the Flying Fish Swim School.

To participate in the Oz Relay, swimmers sign up to swim for 30 minutes, one hour, or longer, and the donation for each 30-minute segment is $108, which is the cost of one session of swim lessons for a child at the Flying Fish Swim School. The relay begins at the YWCA at 4:00 pm on Saturday, May 18, and ends at 4:00 pm on Sunday, May 19.

Anyone high-school age or older is eligible to participate. To sign up to swim, go to http://bit.ly/OzRelay2019.

Or, to make a donation to the Oz Fund at YWCA Evanston/North Shore, go to http://bit.ly/OzRelayDonation.

For more information, please contact Pete Caragher at pcaragher@ywca-ens.org or call 847-864-8445.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore is on a mission to eliminate racism and empower women, and its Flying Fish aquatics program aligns with that mission by providing access and opportunities in its pools. Learn more at www.ywca-ens.org.