I guess it is time that I make official what many of you know limited details of. As you may or may not know I lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast from the age of 7 until I came to college 11 years later. I spent the first two summers of college coaching a summer league team there. It was a cool place to grow up. One block from the beach, pretty laid back and beautiful brown water as far as the eye could see. Alright the water isn’t so pretty but the beaches were.
When Katrina hit, the neighborhood I grew up in and hundreds more just like it were wiped from the face of the earth. I wanted to try and do a burrito rescue there, but with the influx of people into Baton Rouge, I was slammed busy and unable. In January I had to sneak by National Guard troops just to get in to see what was left of my old neighborhood. I sat on what was left of the house (simply concrete steps) and cried. I did not know I would have such a strong reaction to being there. Whenever I go home (my parents live north of the interstate in Gulfport) I always go down to the old hood and the reaction is nearly the same. In the year plus that has passed nearly no rebuilding has occured on the beach. Homeowners must wait for FEMA water tables, try and get insurance for their losses and good luck trying to get someone to rewrite new insurance.
Nice story, but what does it have to do with me? I have tried to figure out a way to benefit the coast, but the reality is I am not going to raise enough money to rebuild any houses and there are plenty of people trying to help in that regard. I am putting the finishing touches on a charity that will raise money to help promote kids fitness in the area. In order to raise awareness for this I am going to swim from Bay St. Louis to Ocean Springs, MS on March 31st, 2007. About 32 miles. My goal is to raise $1,000,000.00. With the help of Crawfish Aquatics I will be also trying to organize a swim a thon where we try and get 100 masters teams to each raise at least $1000.00 and swim the same distance on the same day. I would like this to turn into an ongoing event there and in other areas. We hope to educate kids and families about childhood obesity, rebuild fitness centers on the cosat, and help promote physical education in schools. I will be trying to bring national attention back to the coast and back on childhood obesity.