Nine years after a tragedy that changed his life forever, Russ Reddick is on a cross-country mission to make sure others don’t have to feel the pain of being a grieving parent.
The Wyoming man, whose 6-year-old daughter drowned during a swimming lesson, is riding his motorcycle to the four corners of the country to spread his message of water safety.
Reddick started out in his hometown of Casper, Wyoming on September 8 and reached Blaine, the northwest corner of the contiguous United States, on September 13. He has since traveled to San Diego and Key West and is currently on his way to Madawaska, Maine. He has met with local fire departments and swift-water rescue personnel along the way, who have shared in his effort to alert people to the importance of water safety. The ride is a fundraiser for the Drowning Support Network, and
Reddick said the ride also honors the memory of his daughter.
Kira Reddick was at a swimming lesson in 2004 when she went underwater at a moment when no one was watching her. That moment of inattentiveness was all it took for an accident that devastated a family. In their grief, Reddick and his wife Angela turned to the Drowning Support Network, which was founded by California resident Nancy Rigg. With help from others who have lost loved ones to drowning, Reddick said he’s been able to rebuild his life.
“That day changed my life forever,” he said. “It ripped my family apart and destroyed my life. The Drowning Support Network put us in touch with others who have gone through the same thing and gave us information for how to deal with grief. That information was priceless for us.”
Reddick is riding his 2007 Suzuki Hyabusa on the 10,000-mile ride. He said he’s seen some amazing sights so far.
“I don’t think there’s a better way to see the country than on a motorcycle,” he said. “You’re out in the open, and you can smell the difference in the places you go through.”
The people he’s met along the way have inspired him to help others, Reddick said.
“I’ve been meeting with a lot of rescue personnel, and these people are amazing. They put themselves in harm’s way to save others. It’s been an honor to meet with them,” he said.
Reddick said the Hollywood image of drowning – victims crying out for help and waving their arms – is completely false.
“Drowning is a silent killer that only takes a second,” he said. “A drowning person’s first instinct is to hold their breath and conserve their air, so they can’t cry out for help. They’re trying to climb out of the water, so they can’t wave or thrash around. It doesn’t look like it does in the movies.”
Public swimming places can be the most dangerous, because it’s easy to lose sight of an individual swimming in a large group of people. Since an accident can happen in a second, the takeaway lesson is simple: “Never turn your back on a child in the water,” Reddick said.
To support Reddick in his journey, visit tinyurl.com/reddick10000.