Live Like Jake Foundation Story and 5K
A parent’s worse nightmare…
It was supposed to be a fun Thanksgiving weekend trip that started on Thursday, November 28, 2013 at Keri’s father’s house in Orlando where we ate lots of turkey and stuffing then stayed the night at a hotel on International Drive. We woke up and had a big breakfast at Denny’s with my dad and step mom. We were going to go play some mini golf but got stuck in serious traffic on I-drive so we decided to skip it. We then headed over to New Smyrna Beach where Roarke’s sister Robin and her husband Jim live to finish off our Thanksgiving weekend. We woke up Saturday morning November 30, 2013 and had a great day. Robin and Jim went and got their beautiful Christmas tree and we just played with all of the kids. Then just after 6 pm the last words ANY parent ever wants to hear “Where is Jake?” Keri was in the other room nursing our precious little daughter Julia who was 12 weeks old at the time when we heard those words that have forever changed our lives. Jake slipped out the back door in the pitch dark and fell off the dock into the intra-coastal. There was so much screaming going on because we knew he was in there but it was so dark we couldn’t see anything. We have never felt so helpless in our entire life knowing that our baby needed us more than ever and we couldn’t save him. Roarke and Jim were going up and down the docks on the Jet Ski until finally Jim found Jake and the ambulance quickly took him to the hospital but they were not able to revive him. Roarke and I were in the room with him while they tried so hard to bring him back to us. We still can remember EVERY second so clearly and screaming for our baby to come back all the while knowing that he had gone straight to Heaven.
I hope that no parent EVER has to go through what we have gone through and that is why we are so passionate about drowning prevention and also helping other families who have either lost a child or have a child that has had a near drowning and is in hospital care. We wanted to share our story because we know a lot of you only know that Jake drowned but didn’t know how and where. We do not own a pool and do not live on the water so we weren’t in a real hurry with the swim lessons although he did take lessons over the summer. He wasn’t really taking to it and we were just going to try again next year when he was a little older and more cooperative. Our situation is different than most drowning cases because it was not a pool so whether his life would have been spared if he had done ISR lessons we will never know and that still makes us so sad every day thinking of it. We beg of you if you have a child that does not know how to self-rescue and is over 6 months old please please please get them in lessons. Also when you are on vacation in a different environment please be aware of your surroundings at ALL times because it only takes a few seconds for them to sneak away. We have gone to Robin and Jim’s home countless times with Jake and although we were always nervous of the water and made him wear a life jacket while on the dock, we NEVER imagined he would go out there by himself especially at night. Please share this story with as many people as you can because if it saves just ONE life then we will know this is our purpose in life and why God chose us to carry out this mission and save other babies. -Keri and Roarke Morrison
After Jake passed away, Keri and Roarke Morrison founded the Live Like Jake Foundation to raise awareness for childhood drowning prevention. The foundation provides scholarships for ISR self-rescue swim lessons to families that cannot afford them as well as provides financial assistance for funeral and medical expenses following a drowning accident. To date the foundation has granted over 3200 scholarships in 41 states and has financially assisted hundreds of families with medical and funeral expenses. In November of 2020, Live Like Jake opened an indoor swim facility in Palm Beach Gardens for year-round ISR lessons. Drowning knows no season and now swim lessons don’t either.
Drowning is the LEADING cause of death in children ages 1-4 and the second leading for children 14 and under. The Live Like Jake Foundation was created to end this epidemic. Keri and Roarke continue to educate and spread the word about water safety and the importance of life-saving swim lessons in hopes to help prevent a terrible accident like Jake’s. Parents assume they have taken all the safety precautions when their children are around water, but many are unaware what an epidemic childhood drowning is and how most occur during “non-swim” times. There is water EVERYWHERE in Florida and it only takes seconds for a young child to find it but it is PREVENTABLE!
The foundation is working around the clock to keep numerous fundraisers going throughout the year. One of their biggest events is the Live Like Jake 5k held in Abacoa on April 29th with the proceeds benefiting swim lesson scholarships. Be sure to bring the entire family, after the 5k is complete there will be a kid’s area open with various activities and games for everyone to enjoy.
Please check out the website livelikejake.com to Learn more, join in the race, or volunteer.
- Stay vigilant when a child is near water. Drowning happens when there is a lapse (not lack) in supervision.
- Designate a water watcher. This can be done in 15-minute shifts, so there are always eyes on the water.
- Install a pool fence that is 4 to 6 feet tall and has a self-latching and self-closing gate.
- Erase all temptation of entering the water. Remove all pool toys when the pool isn't in use and move poolside furniture that smaller children could climb on.
- All caregivers should learn CPR. If there is an emergency, you will be skilled in what to do and can move quickly.
- Remove dog doors that could be easy exits for small children.
- Add alarms that will sound when doors or windows are opened and when the child touches the water.
- Self-rescue swim lessons - even for infants - can serve as an added layer of protection and save children's lives.
- Most importantly, if a child goes missing, always check the water first.