CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In a town bordered by beaches and open water, sometimes its easy to forget the dangers that lurk beneath the surface.
Four years ago, Je'Sani Smith was swept away by a rip current near Whitecap Beach, just two months away from graduating high school. His mother, Kiwana Denson, made it her mission to remember her son and everyone who has lost their life to rip currents.
“I felt that it was important not only to honor him, but to honor all the others who have lost their lives to rip currents,” Denson said.
The Je’Sani Smith Foundation, founded by Denson, hosted the second annual Surviving the Rip 5K or 10K Run/Walk in Je'Sani's honor at the Briscoe King Pavilion on Saturday.
The event has helped bring awareness to beach safety, kicking off for the kickoff of beach safety and rip current awareness month in Texas.
Denson, the president of the foundation, said the event is about providing people with education.
“We need to save lives. Drowning in preventable, rip current related fatalities are preventable and this is what we’re doing,” Denson said. “We’re raising awareness, to give people information that they need to keep themselves safe at the beach.”
She said that water related incidents are preventable and when the right steps are given, it saves lives.
“We need to save lives," she said. "Drowning (and) rip current related fatalities are preventable and this is what we’re doing. We’re raising awareness, to give people information that they need to keep themselves safe at the beach.”
Denson said that they had put signs throughout the Coastal Bend so beach goers can know before they go into the water.
“We want to make sure that people are prepared before they get to the beach,"she said. "So that’s why you see all the billboards, and all the radio ads, and all the information that we have out in our community.”
On June 14, 2021, Bill HCR 46 was signed and designated April as beach safety and rip current awareness month for ten years. Behind that bill is one of the foundation’s biggest supporters, Rep. Todd Hunter for the District 32.
He said that events like this matter in the education of water safety.
“Two years ago, we got the state of Texas to declare April as Beach Safety Awareness month and it was due to her and her foundation,” Hunter said. “We are out here today promoting the beach, promoting safety, and actually promoting health.”
The foundation hoped to provide education, awareness, water skills training, beach safety and other coastal hazards.
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