A Message of Encouragement

During this difficult time of covid-19, I hesitantly take the opportunity to share with you the concept that as a team of ISR instructors, we are familiar with finding joy in a mission that was born out of tragedy and hardship.

ISR was founded in 1966 by Dr. Harvey Barnett who was affected by drownings of kids in his community.  Through years of research coupled with incredible passion, ISR evolved into the high quality program that it is today.  Children can now be taught to swim, float, and self-rescue in the safe hands of highly trained Certified ISR Instructors.

It’s easy to underestimate water and its ability to snatch a child away from us in seconds.  Most families don’t believe drowning could happen to them, until it actually does happen to them or somebody they know.  When a family loses a child to drowning, their entire reality is taken from them in just one moment. They are forced to accept this new future that feels so foreign and sad.  They accept that, with zero notice, they will never hug their child again. Somehow, they are courageous and strong enough to move on.

Each day, our team goes to our respective pools all over the world to protect children from the unthinkable.  Most ISR instructors never imagined they’d spend their days working closely with mothers who have lost children, with children of first responders who’ve tried to save others from drowning, or of nurses and drs who also tried everything but were too late.  We didn’t expect that our own kids would be familiar with the names and faces of kids who have drowned. Our kids are not sheltered and they understand at very young ages that without the hard work that comes with self-rescue swim lessons, kids can’t float and be safe in the water.

ISR is a very serious business, but it is also important and also pretty amazing.  Almost anyone who experiences it is surprised that such a precautionary measure, huge commitment, and difficult exercise could yield so much hope, joy, pride and connection.  Children are capable of absolutely incredible things. Parents who experience this learn that they too are capable of committing to something truly daunting in order to both protect and empower their kids.

Again, this “job,” work, passion, mission or whatever you want to call it yields so much joy.  I wish with all of my heart that there was no such thing as drowning, that I could take all this away to put those children back in their parents’ arms.  This said, I can’t imagine a world without the teamwork, learning, and successes that this mission allows us to be part of.

While many people would choose not to expose themselves or their kids to such difficult conversations and concepts, at CAST, we believe in the power of truth and resilience.  As we suddenly find ourselves in a world where nobody is sheltered from the truth, we hope you will think of this and believe in the resilience of your entire family.

Nothing compares to losing a child, nor does anything compare to the fear we are all facing at this moment of uncertainty driven by Covid-19.  All I can say is, we aren’t the first to accept an unwanted change and we aren’t the first to face an uncertain future. ISR was founded as a response to a preventable tragedy and has evolved through the implementation of research, communication, teamwork, courage, patience, trust, and an extraordinary amount of love.

Let us dare to say that as we work through this difficult time, incredible amounts of good will come into the world.  We will need to be creative, we will need to work hard, and we will need to believe. Life will likely always be different, but it can be happy and safe again.

Our team at The CAST Water Safety Foundation humbly and proudly looks forward to the opportunity to continue increasing access to ISR lessons in Chicago and beyond.  Until we are back at the pool, we want to offer our friendship and time. We’ve navigated uncharted waters before, and we’d be grateful to hear from any or all of you.

Thank you for believing in us… don’t forget to believe in yourself too! Stay Strong, Stay Safe & Be well!

Forest Park Review

News coverage on the passion behind the founding of the CAST Water Safety Foundation and its new facility coming soon in 2020 to Forest Park!

Read more here.

Jack-O-Lantern Halloween Carnival & Food Drive at The Lantern Haus

CAST joined other area businesses to run a kids Halloween carnival and collect food donations for a local women’s shelter. Kids enjoyed playing carnival games, winning prizes, getting their faces painted, and parading down the street in their Halloween costumes. CAST loves partnering with others in our community, especially for events that allow both children and their parents to enjoy the company of others in a fun and safe environment! Thank you to the Lantern Haus and Jacknow Realty for sponsoring this wonderful annual event! 


Thank you to @cloztalk for creating amazing CAST Swag for us. Jeff and Jonny Imerman are no strangers to starting a non-profit and it’s really just so cool that they’ve now started a company that will help to empower others. They were amazing to work with from start to finish and we are so excited about how everything turned out. We are grateful to CLOZTALK for helping small non-profits like ours have the opportunity to have our logo on comfy and stylish gear.  20% of your purchase will go directly to the CAST Foundation, allowing us to continue increasing access to high-quality ISR swim lesson opportunity. Please visit this link to shop and support our foundation. 

CAST – Sponsored CPR & First Aid Training

Thank you @lanternloft for providing us with a wonderful space to gather, connect, and learn CPR and First Aid. Each year, our small but growing team at CAST gets recertified in CPR and First Aid. The number one thing that we value at ISR and at CAST is safety and we take this responsibility very seriously. Over the years we have been working to earn these certifications Patrick O’Sullivan, who is an area paramedic and 911 dispatcher. Patrick comes to us and specifically tailors his instruction to better fit the needs of our group. We always appreciate having a teacher that makes the learning environment more comfortable, welcoming, and fun. We are also excited to have had participation from several swim parents, swim nannies, and other local non-profits that share our mission of increasing athletic opportunity.
@dare2tri_ @caael25 @candikwiz@bam1383 @clairemezaisr@annabiggs77 @ashleycondron@mreillydeanisr @isrchicago

Watermelons for Water Safety

CAST is proud to support Live Like Jake. This year, CAST families sold watermelon-flavored lemonade and lollipops, watermelon cookies, and watermelon beach balls. We are grateful to everyone who came out to support us in our efforts and proud to announce that we raised over $700 for the Live LIke Jake Foundation.

I never had the opportunity to meet Jake Morrison. I’ve met his beautiful sisters, and I’ve seen them float and play confidently with my girls in the water. I’ve met Jakes kind and courageous parents, and we’ve become fast friends. In this business, and with this passion, there’s a family bond that’s hard to describe. We click quickly, but not without sadness, as the very reason for our friendships are tragic. 

Jake had taken many “swim” lessons, but the Morrison family believes that if Jake were taught to float, he’d be here today. This is why they’ve founded the Live like Jake Foundation. LLJ provides hundreds upon hundreds of ISR swim and self-rescue scholarships each year. Beyond this, they allow us to honor their son’s memory by inspiring us to Life Like Jake lived. July is Watermelons for Water Safety Month. Kids all over the country are encouraged to hold their own watermelon stand in order to raise funds for ISR scholarships. 

Our jobs will always be serious and there will always be sadness intertwined in our journeys, but today we were happy. We are happy to know the Morrison’s. We are happy to honor Jake. We are happy to empower our kids to give. We are happy to have the incredible privilege of being a part of the solution to the most common and most preventable cause of death in children.

Joy of Mom

The Joy of Mom. Many of us are lucky enough to know about the joys and are humbled to be familiar challenges & frustrations of being a mom. There are highs and lows, and if there’s one thing all honest moms would agree on, it’s that motherhood is completely different than any of us ever imagined. There’s SO much to learn, and it can be truly overwhelming to figure out all of the things that “moms must know”. At no other stage of life have I allowed myself to be more connected to, lifted up by, and empowered by other women than I have in the here and now, as I try to navigate all of this “mom stuff.” 

An urgency to protect my kids from the biggest danger in their lives brought me to ISR swim & self-rescue lessons. A desire to share the access to not only the skills but to the education we received at ISR, has been fueled largely by my newfound commitment to the tribe of friends and strangers that call themselves mom. 

While I have a tribe of a few hundred moms, my new friend Vicki Reece has a tribe of millions. If you’re lucky enough to meet Vicki, you’ll instantly know why.  @joyofmom is a lifestyle brand and platform founded by Vicki with an organically grown FB community of over 2.3 million moms, coming together on all that’s most meaningful to us. The community gives moms a voice and platform to inspire, empower, navigate, and support one another along the most significant journey we’ll ever travel—motherhood. 

We are beyond grateful that Vicki has chosen to help us carry out our CAST mission of increasing awareness for and access to ISR lesson opportunity and the free water safety education that comes with it! Thank you to the entire JOM community for welcoming CAST into your conversations & into your hearts so that we can have open, non-judgmental conversations about what water safety needs to look like in order to change the horrifying statistics about drowning.