The grant from the Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program Presented by GEHA will help provide aquatic safety lessons at a reduced price (Courtesy photo)

The YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles recently collaborated with GEHA to provide aquatics and safety programs through the Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program.

GEHA, a partner of the back-to-back Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, found organizations in the cities of their away games this past season to give funding for aquatic safety. The Los Angeles Chargers hosted the Chiefs for the last game of their regular season.

The program is named after the late Chiefs running back Joe Delaney who drowned in an attempt to save three children in a pond in Monroe, Louisiana.

“GEHA is a health benefits organization who are fortunate to have more than two million members and we have a member in every zip code in the country,” said GEHA manager of corporate social responsibility Gene Willis. “We understand that health equity has challenges all throughout our country.”

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YMCA Metro L.A. covers 27 branches and GEHA awarded them with a $5000 donation. YMCA of Metro L.A. senior vice principal of mission advancement Lisa Van Ingen Pope mentioned how the grant money allows YMCA Metro L.A. to give classes at a reduced price to help provide more access.

“It’s cool that there are organizations and people out there being thoughtful, being altruistic, really caring about communities that aren’t even their own,” Pope said. “It was really heartwarming, and I was delighted that we were contacted and could be part of it.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that an average of 11 people succumb to unintentional drowning a day. Black people are 1.5 times more likely to drown than White people. Black children from 10 to 14 drown 7.6 times more than White children.

YMCA Metro L.A. aquatics director Harry Van noted how teaching youth aquatic safety skills can give them confidence when they are older, and they can pass on their knowledge to others.

“A child can gain knowledge of how a sibling could be in the water and jumped in, the parents are distracted and they can use something as simple as a towel … to throw in the pool and they hold on the end,” Van said. “They do what’s called a “reach-and-assist” to then pull them back to the side.”

The YMCA has a program called “Safety Around the Water,” where youth learn the joys of water, how to avoid dangerous situations, and basic water skills.

For more information about YMCA Metro L.A. aquatic programs, please visit