Keep Swimming: Charity Bash charity helps families stay afloat


Photo by Max Feldman

A student hands money to Jillian Baffa, senior (right), to donate to the Keep Swimming Foundation. The foundation is the chosen charity for Charity Bash this year, and clubs are already raising money in a variety of ways.

By Max Feldman and Sophia Babcock

Spending day and night in a hospital is pricey already, but paying the steep price of the non-medical expenses makes matters even worse. One charity is trying to help families in those situations, and this year’s charity bash is helping to achieve that goal.

The Keep Swimming Foundation was founded in 2017 by Bill Coon, an alumni of Lake Zurich. Coon says the charity means a great deal to him, as he went through the traumatic experiences the foundation aims to prevent.

“When I was 20 years old, I was in the the hospital for 70 days waiting for my second heart transplant and first kidney transplant. While I was in there I watched my family almost every single day come to my hospital room, and I watched them pay for so many things out of pocket,” Coon said. “I watched it add up, and it took its toll. It made what was already a stressful situation ten times more stressful because that’s stuff insurance will never [deduct]”

His family was not the only one struggling with the hospital experience, Coon says. According to Coon, people can end up with loads of debt, adding on to the painful experience of being ill.

 Coon said that after meeting with several families who had similar experiences, he “started to realize that almost everybody who finds themself in that circumstance ends up somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 in credit card debt. My family, personally, was in just over $7,500 of credit card debt in just 70 days.”

Students say that the founder’s experience is not unfamiliar, and that most families at least know of others who have had similar experiences. Aidan Gralinski, junior, says that empathy plays a big role in how the charity is received.

“I think every student at the school has a family member that could be struggling with a very difficult diagnosis. Personally, I think that Keep Swimming Foundation connects a lot with the student body, since almost everyone knows how expensive medical bills can get,” Gralinski said. “With these charities and fundraisers, students have an opportunity to snap out of their everyday routine and feel sympathy for others.”

Even students who do not relate to the cause often feel the need to contribute, according to Kelsey Selzer, freshman. Selzer says that with fundraisers like Charity Bash, students can realize their place in society and show generosity towards those who are less fortunate.

According to Selzer, students tend not to realize the privileges they have, and by helping raise money for this charity, they can see “real world problems”. The charity “could make them more aware of problems that could coming up in another person’s family,” Selzer said. “Students can see how minor their problems are compared to these families being supported by the fundraiser, which leads to them feeling both sorry for the families and thankful that their family isn’t going through this.”

Students often feel benefits from raising money for a great cause like the Keep Swimming Foundation, Jillian Baffa, student council member, says. According to Baffa, the empathy that comes from the charity’s powerful stories inspires the school to come together.

“Just hearing the stories that the students have and the owner of the charity [has] really inspires people. With that, people can get really connected to the charity, and they want to come together to play dodgeball and play badminton,” Baffa said. “Students think of them as fun activities that you don’t really think about, but at the same time we are raising money. So through these events and charity bash as a whole, we can see the student body coming together for a great cause.”

Coon says that visiting such an energetic student body that takes the cause seriously is inspiring, but it is not the only reason he is looking forward to Charity Bash. According to Coon, coming back to his hometown gives him a special feeling that makes everything worthwhile.

“It’s such a good feeling knowing that to some degree I left behind a positive impression where the community still wants to support my endeavors, and the teachers want to support my endeavors, and obviously the students now,” Coon said. “There’s something special about going back to your hometown.”

This story was originally published on Bear Facts on November 27, 2018.