Levi – Age 3

In June of 2018, while on vacation with dear family friends, 3 year old Levi Hughes slipped off the couch and out of a room full of people that love him. Swim time was long over, dinner was being cleaned up and Levi was wearing khaki shorts and his bright orange crab hunting t-shirt. When Levi’s mom Nicole stepped out onto the balcony to see if the rain had stopped for the crab hunting night, she saw a flash of orange in the water. For not one second did Nicole think that this was Levi in the pool, after all, he had just been on the couch with his friends eating cheetos. Regardless, she and others sprung immediately into action. Despite the fact that all 6 fathers of the families on this trip were trained physicians, their unconditional love, prayers and prompt and professional attempts to medically revive the child, who, somehow, really was Levi, were unsuccessful.

Nicole, mom to Levi and his 4 siblings, has kindly and courageously taken to a uniquely impactful form of drowning prevention advocacy through speaking, writing and research.

Below are some of the many unanswered questions that inspired Nicole to take a stance:

-How did we not know that drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1-4?
-How did we not know that the large majority of toddler drownings happen after swim time is over and while children are fully clothed?
-Why, at the time of Levi’s accident did the American Academy of Pediatrics not recommend swimming lessons for children under 4?
-Did the use of US Coast Guard-approved floaties during swim time at the pool contribute to my son’s false understanding of his ability to “swim”? How do we better communicate the proper use of this device?
-How do I adequately articulate the power and value of the self-rescue swimming lesson experience that my two youngest children participated in after Levi’s accident?
-What can we do to make parents in this most at-risk age group aware of the statistics, situational factors, and solutions?

CAST’s Founder, Liz Huber will be fast to tell you that Nicole’s advocacy was a noticeable game changer in the world of water safety awareness and education. Inspired by Nicole’s approach to not only drowning prevention advocacy but also parenting, her passion for the power of relationships, and even for fall and football, Liz quickly thought of Nicole as a friend and mentor. Fast forward to 2023, Liz and Nicole have partnered together at nationwide awareness efforts inspiring new supporters to join CAST’s mission in the way of strategic partnerships and self-rescue lesson research funding. Underlying all of the “mission-related business” is a shared understanding that this is about people and that we are doing this all for the kids. The Hughes and Huber families have connected and become close. Their children are bound by tons of fun memories, a shared understanding that life is best spent near water and with friends, and that together their families are helping thousands be safer in and around the water.