After daughter’s near-drowning, dad creates nonprofit to teach kids how to swim

Photo: WKRN

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Middle Tennessee father is working to save lives after his own daughter nearly died in a swimming pool.

“It was a birthday party,” recalled Steve Reeves. “Little girls – no one is watching the pool and we turn around and I see my daughter lying on the bottom of the pool.”

His then 4-year-old daughter survived.

It was that traumatic experience that inspired Reeves and his wife to create Howard’s Hope, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to reducing juvenile drownings.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

“Our mission is to fund organized swim lessons for children who are living in households that may be experiencing economic hardship,” explained Reeves.

According to the Howard’s Hope, 70 percent of African-American children cannot swim, while 60 percent of Hispanic/Latino children and 40 percent of Caucasian children can’t swim.

With the help of a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield Tennessee Health Foundation, in the first year of Howard’s Hope, it connected 30 children with free swim classes, while in its second year, the nonprofit helped nearly 150 students.

This year, Reeves said the goal is to help 500 Middle Tennessee children learn how to swim.

“We match those children up to local aquatic facilities and we put those children through swim lessons,” said Reeves.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

The free classes will be offered in Clarksville, Nashville, Murfreesboro, Shelbyville and Tullahoma.

If you would like to apply for the free swimming classes, email or call 615-663-0313.

For a full list of free swimming classes offered in your area visit,

The YMCA also does something similar, but the organization teams up with schools to offer free swimming lessons for first and second graders.

The Y buses them over to their locations from school during their gym time for as long as the school sets up the class for. IT’s all funded through a grand to help close the gap of kids who can’t swim.