A private citizen donated $10,000 on Friday to help provide swim lessons for children through a program set up in honor of a 6-year old boy who drowned three years ago.
“I think the sooner you can get a (child) comfortable … swimming, the better,” said county resident Walter Dear. “Knowing how to swim lasts a life time, and I wanted to make that possible for more families.”
Dear’s contribution will go to the Cristian Korte Memorial Swim Fund, a program set up after Cristian Korte drowned at Navajo Lake while celebrating his birthday in August 2014.
Now, the memorial fund seeks to provide financial assistance to low-income families in the area that wish to enroll their children in certified swim programs at one of five locations in the Four Corners. Locations include the Durango Community Recreation Center, Ignacio Recreation Center, Cortez Recreation Center, Farmington Recreation Center and Bloomfield Aquatic Center.
Dear, a lifelong swimmer, said he learned how to swim at age 8, and went on to swim for his high school’s team in New Jersey. Now, he swims just about every day at the Durango Rec Center.
“We are extremely lucky to have such a wonderful aquatic center in our town,” Dear said. “It’s fantastic. There’s so many places where children can learn how to swim.”
Cathy Metz, director of Durango Parks and Recreation, said the program served a 362 children at the five centers in 2016. The Durango Rec Center received $3,500 for the children who took swim lessons in Durango.
Shelly Korte, Cristian’s grandmother, said the memorial fund raises about $4,000 to $6,000 a year, so Dear’s contribution was significant.
“We were overly excited about that,” she said.