With summer right around the corner, kids and families will be heading back to lakes, rivers and ponds to cool off and have fun — and the family of Enmanuel “Manny” Familia wants people to place greater focus on water safety this year.
On June 4, 2021, the Worcester, Massachusetts, police officer was attempting to rescue a 14-year-old boy from a local pond in the community southwest of Boston, but tragically, both individuals lost their lives that day. Now, the Familias are committed to spreading aquatic safety awareness.
“Coming to grips with the fact that we had lost Manny has been the hardest task my family has had to endure. It’s important for us to make sure the community is safe and we prevent this tragedy from ever happening again,” Elvin Familia, Manny’s brother, explained to NBC Boston.
Over the past year, the family founded the Manny 267 Foundation — named for Manny’s badge number — with assistance from the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, to spread awareness of aquatic safety measures, including learning how to swim. This year, the nonprofit is paying for local kids to take swim lessons at the same YMCA Manny attended growing up. The family hopes law enforcement professionals also will sign up for the free lessons.
“It’s important that we do both, we understand that a young man passed away too … so we want to make sure that kids and the police officers have the proper training and know how to swim,” said Elvin Familia, as reported by MassLive.
Additionally, the family, with help from UMass personnel, designed the Manny Tube, a water-safety device that measures 40 inches long and five inches wide, and features Manny’s signature. It has been tested to support up to five individuals. The foundation has distributed Manny Tubes to be installed in all Worcester P.D. vehicles and will train officers on how to properly deploy and operate the device.
At the recent ceremony where the family presented the gear to his department, Worcester Police Chief Steven Sargent said the “foundation will likely save lives” with its water safety initiative.
“Here in Worcester we have learned that in difficult time we find strength by turning to each other and today is a reminder of that,” he said.
Elvin Familia also told the media he hopes to distribute Manny Tubes to law enforcement agencies nationwide in the future, so that Manny’s commitment to protect and serve carries on.
“He’s proud and this is exactly what we are trying to do; make sure his name is attached to good and his legacy is intact and this community is helping us with that,” Familia commented.