Our mission at Drennen's Dreams Foundation is to honor Drennen's legacy by teaching and training lifeguards and aquatics professionals, equipping and supporting managers and owners to maintain the highest safety standards.
Drennen's Dreams Foundation vision is to support, inspire and impact communities nationwide with drowning prevention awareness focusing on two main initiatives:
• Providing education, in-service and on-going training in: safety, supervision, prevention, aquatics staff development and best practices
• Developing partnerships to fund and promote health, wellness, safety, education and water safety leadership
Drennen passed away June 6, 2010. The O'Melia family received strong support from family, friends and their local community. Drennen's parents knew after he passed that they needed to give back to the community that had been so supportive. Initially, the family focused their attention on supporting a new youth center at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Centennial, where Drennen and his family were members. Drennen had been excited about the possibility of this youth center. After a year of fundraising by the church with the help from the O'Melia's and hundreds of volunteers from the community, The Drennen O'Melia Youth Center, lovingly called The D'Zone, was opened on June 6, 2012, exactly two years after Drennen passed away.
In 2012 Bill and Melissa, with help and input from friends, funded the Drennen's Dreams Fund, a donor-advised fund housed at The Denver Foundation. They saw the spark in the community that had helped create the D'Zone and believed that it could be harnessed for greater good. The community had their first fundraising event, the SplashDash 5k Run, on June 9, 2013. Over 450 runners participated. The Fund made donations to the Bereavement Program at Colorado Children's Hospital for Aurora Shooting Victims/Families as well as Littleton Public Schools Foundation. The Fund was able to give $10,000 to local and national organizations in 2013 including:
Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross
National Swimming Pool Foundation
National Drowning Prevention Alliance and its local affiliate the Colorado Drowning Prevention Task Force
The D'Zone youth center operated by St. Timothy's Episcopal Church and named after Drennen
Littleton Youth Sports
Littleton Public Schools Foundation
After the O'Melia's were invited to share Drennen's story with several aquatics organizations the opportunity to focus on drowning prevention and water safety evolved. The organization became a 501c3 nonprofit in 2014. A lifeguard presentation was developed that Drennen's Dreams Foundation was invited to share nationally. That outreach continues to expand locally, regionally and nationally. The organization joined Families United to Prevent Drowning, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, Pool Safely and many others. Drennen's Dreams Foundation board members and staff are invited to offer keynotes, serve on expert panels, have been interviewed by media and serve on a variety of leadership and steering teams.
In December of 2015, Drennen's Dreams became a member of Families United To Prevent Drowning, a national organization made up of families and friends who have lost loved ones to drowning. The purpose of this organization is to create a voice at the national level to raise awareness of the drowning epidemic on a national stage.
Our drive and compassion for the cause of pool safety and awareness honors the memory of 12-year-old Drennen O'Melia, whose 2010 drowning in a guarded pool illuminated the critical need for education around pool and water safety.
Donations to Drennen's Dreams Foundation fund the presentations and resources we offer. Our presentations and videos reach hundreds of thousands of lifeguard and aquatics professionals, which in turn affect millions of families.
Drennen's story is one that every lifeguard, lifeguard manager and facility owner/operator should know and take to heart. We are honored that the O'Melia family has allowed us to help tell his story through our Lifeguarding and Lifeguard Management training courses. There is no doubt that Drennen's Dreams is making a significant impact in helping drive home the huge responsibility of those charged with protecting others in and around the water.
American Red Cross
We train, talk, and reinforce the seriousness of lifeguards' jobs over and over, but nothing we could say, or have ever said, could have the impact on them that your presentation did.
Aquatics Manager, Apex Park & Recreation District
We met Bill O'Melia from Drennen's Dreams Foundation at the February 2019 Association of Aquatics Professionals Conference in Texas. I want our lifeguards to understand the seriousness of their job. By allowing us to tell Drennen's story to them as well as those who come into our facility we can raise awareness and make sure it not only doesn't happen at our facility, but others as well. The lifeguards at each of our three facilities will be trained to share the story of a child who has drowned in a lifeguarded pool. They will also share what could have been done to prevent their drowning. Lifeguards at our facility will all have pins they are creating reading, "Ask me about Drennen". This way they can educate our patrons throughout the summer and remain aware of how absolutely crucial their focus is when they are on the job. We will also have big jars each facility will create as a team to raise money for each foundation or scholarship fund. At the end of the summer we will donate the money to the foundation and send you a video where they will reflect and describe how it went throughout the summer. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me at the conference and for sharing Drennen's story.
Branchwood Aquatics Manager, Bella Vista, AR
It's been a personal pleasure to watch the Drennen's Dreams Foundation grow to the community pillar and it is now. The annual 5K is the highlight of the summer for our neighborhood and it is remarkably well-organized and supported by sponsors. The organization is exemplary in its use of media and staying focused on its mission; no surprise given the leadership and character represented on its Board. DDF quietly represents fearless determination, intensive pursuit of goals and perseverance based on overt, unqualified faith in the human spirit. The organization uplifts the spirits of and motivates everyone it touches. Including Drennen's Dreams in Colorado Gives Day as an emerging Colorado nonprofit will foster a win/win for all.
Marketing professional, past candidate for Centennial City Council