Deb Gordon’s guest was Stew Leonard, CEO of Stew Leonard’s food stores spotlighting the Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation, which Mr. Leonard founded in 1990, along with his wife Kim, shortly after their 21 month old toddler drowned in their family pool. The Leonards have pledged to do everything they can to prevent this tragedy from happening to other families.
Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children under five and Mr. Leonard urged listeners to be diligent about watching their kids, and never assume the other parent is watching them. While sharing the personal story about the loss of their son, Mr. Leonard stated, “I thought my wife was watching him, she thought I was watching him. …and he just slipped into the pool and just within a matter of minutes, drowned”. The Leonards subsequently researched the issue and learned that similar accidents happen quite frequently and are completely preventable, and set out to educate and inform the community about child water safety.
Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than $1 million dollars to help fund a variety of water safety awareness initiatives. In addition to providing swim scholarships and lifeguard training, the Foundation has also published two children’s books on water safety: Swimming Lessons with Stewie the Duck and the award winning, Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim, which is used in water safety courses around the country.