ADA — A stormy morning of celebration brought tears to Ada’s Saundra L. Neely, affectionately known as the “Swimming Lady.”
Neely was honored with proclamations from Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Ada Mayor David Retterer for her 50 years of teaching swimming and water safety to the residents of Ada. A bronze plaque, which hangs in the newly renovated Ada pool house, honors her.
“She’s taught generations of people,” Retterer said. “To see someone volunteering for 50 years, that just doesn’t happen. She taught my kids to swim, learning as little guys. They don’t live around here, but if they did, their children would be out here taking swim lessons from her.”
Todd James with the American Red Cross thanked Neely for her dedication and credited her with saving lives.
“It’s an unfortunate fact that drowning is the number one cause of injury death to kids ages one to four in this country. And, when you think about that and you think about how many kids that Sandy and her team have taught to enjoy water, to swim and to be safe in the water over the years, we can’t even imagine how many lives they have saved with the work that they have done. And more importantly how many kids they’ve let have fun safely in the summer. You are without a doubt a true example of what the Red Cross is all about, and the work that you’ve done for the kids and the families in this community is without parallel. It is so much our honor to have you as part of the Red Cross team and you are well deserving of this recognition today. Thank you Sandy and thank you to your entire team over the years for everything you have done to help the kids of this community,” said James.
Lu Cook, with the governor’s office, honored Neely as well.
“We are grateful for the impact you made and we join your friends, family and colleagues in remembering your legacy of commitment to your community,” Cook read from the proclamation.
Retterer proclaimed June 22 as the day of Sandy Neely, the “Swimming Lady.”
The group was led to the pool house where a bronze plaque was displayed.
“I am just so overwhelmed. This was totally unexpected, and I never dreamed this would happen,” said Neely. “I couldn’t have done this without all the help of my volunteers. I have to thank my family. Vacations have been put on hold until swimming classes were over. They have given up a lot of things because Mom was doing swimming.”
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.