NEWINGTON – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal joined Stew Leonard Jr. at Mill Pond Pool this week. Not for a casual swim, but to discuss water safety the day before the 4th of July holiday.
Leonard and his wife Kim have donated over $3 million to provide swimming lessons to underprivileged youth and other water safety initiatives, through their family’s charity, the Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation. The Leonards lost their toddler son Stewie in a pool accident in 1989 and have since become advocates for the cause.
The couple came to Newington with Blumenthal at what they consider the most dangerous time to be in the water without the proper precautions.
“As you can see, this is a beautiful pool and the kids are having so much fun,” said Leonard, who went on to thank Newington Parks and Recreation staff for their watchfulness of swimmers.
The foundation gave a grant to the department earlier this year to help provide swimming lessons to 100 Newington youth who otherwise would not be able to afford them.
“It takes a lot of work to keep the water clean and the kids safe,” Blumenthal pointed out. “We want to thank Newington Parks and Rec folks.”
As a parent of four, Blumenthal added, he is eager to share the message with other parents.
“Every parent’s greatest fear is what happened to Kim and Stew Leonard. Not because of a lack of supervision, but a lapse in supervision. They have made their story a lesson for all of us. For that example of courage and strength, I thank them.”
Having a big pool party is a popular way to celebrate America’s Independence Day. The trio wants to remind party hosts, parents and people in general – watch the kids.
“As Kim and Stew advise,” Blumenthal said, “make sure someone is keeping an eye on that child.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.