EAGLE – Rhonda Halvorsen has been on a mission since last summer.
The Eagle woman is ready to continue that mission this summer and hopes her effort gains momentum.
This Sunday, Halvorsen and other Crihstian’s Cause volunteers will be their first lifejacket giveaway and fundraiser at the Branched Oak Lake State Recreation Area.
The event is at Liebers Point swim beach from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free food and water will be available. CPR demonstrations, children’s tattoo station and a kayak raffle will all be present as well.
“It’s kind of like a party on the beach,” Halvorsen said.
There will be lifejackets to give to those in need of them as well.
Halvorsen started Crihstian’s Cause last year to combat drowning related deaths by providing free lifejackets to children. She started the program in the wake of a drowning at Pawnee Lake near Lincoln last June.
The body of Christian Montoya, 28, was pulled from Pawnee Lake Area 1 hours after the wind had pushed him and his 2 year old son, Christian Montoya Jr., off a flotation device and into the water.
A jet-ski driver rescued the toddler, but Montoya could not be found when the driver returned to pick him up. It was reported that Montoya nor his son were wearing a life jacket.
Halvorsen said Crihstian’s Cause is named and operated in their name to help prevent lives being cut short in similar ways.
“I had a 2 year old granddaughter, so I could relate. It really hit me,” Halvorsen said.
She said the idea for the program came to her as she was trying to fall back asleep one morning.
“It was one of those six o’clock in the morning thoughts,” Halvorsen said.
She thought about her own grandkids and eventually came to the conclusion that she would just do something. So, last summer she went to Pawnee Lake herself and just started handing out lifejackets.
As word spread of what she was trying to do, she said she accumulated nearly $800 in donations to buy more new lifejackets.
The effort went beyond Pawnee Lake and Halvorsen and volunteers managed to hand out life jackets at Branched Oak Lake and Lake Minatare.
Providing even more free lifejackets continues to be Halvorsen’s goal.
Halvorsen will tackling multiple locations across Nebraska this summer. These locations include Branched Oak Lake, Lake McConaughy, Lake Minatare and Pawnee Lake.
She and her volunteers are starting to the lay the groundwork for moving beyond their current limitations.
She said she is hoping to make Crihstian’s Cause big enough so she’ll need as many extra hands as possible.
“We’re focusing on all of Nebraska and then hope to branch out. It maybe won’t be this year or the next, but it will happen,” Halvorsen said.
The group has been holding various fundraisers this past year and donations opportunities will be available on Sunday.
For more information, visit Crihstian’s Cause Facebook page or www.crihstianscause.com.
Monetary donations can be mailed to Crihstian’s Cause, Inc., C/O Eagle State Bank, P.O. Box 39
Eagle, NE 68347.
New and used lifejackets are also accepted.