American Red Cross

The American Red Cross marked its 100th birthday in a big way by launching the Aquatics Centennial Campaign, with the goal of helping 50,000 people in 50 U.S. cities attain swimming proficiency.

Connie Harvey leads the charge. She and her team work with Red Cross partners such as the YMCA, aquatics facilities, parks and rec, Jewish community centers, and Boys & Girls Clubs.

“We commit to be with [students] three years, getting them to water competency and putting them on the pathway to water self-sufficiency,” she says. That means they have acquired fundamental aquatic skills and developed basic swim strokes.

The campaign began in May 2014 and is rolling out in increments. It’s expected to take five years to reach all the selected cities, whose drowning rates surpass those of the nation, based on CDC data.

It was natural for Harvey to direct such a campaign, given her passion for aquatics. She began as a lifeguard, then a water safety instructor, followed by work in the Florida Recreation & Park Association’s aquatics branch. Harvey joined the Red Cross aquatics team in 1996.

Clearly, the campaign is in good hands.