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Former Olympian Bode Miller Olympic and his wife have opened up on social media to express their appreciation for the outpouring of support they have received following the drowning death of their daughter and share how they will keep her memory alive by preventing future tragedies like hers.
“We want to thank our friends, family and every one of you who sent a message, said a prayer or donated for the overwhelming expression of support — we are truly touched and blessed,” Bode wrote in an Instagram post featuring a picture of himself with his daughter, Emeline.
The 19-month-old toddler drowned in a neighbor’s swimming pool on June 10. Her family had arrived at the Orange County, California, home for a party. Their children were playing in a nearby room when young Emmy slipped through a back door. She was discovered in a pool shortly later and rushed to a hospital but could not be resuscitated.
More than a week later, Miller and his wife, Morgan Beck, a professional beach volleyball player, opened up on social media about how they plan to keep their daughter’s memory alive by donating funds from a GoFundMe campaign to organizations connected to water safety education.
“We are inspired to make our baby girls memory go forth and help prevent as many drownings as possible. We will post more soon on our plans and efforts,” Beck and Miller wrote on their Instagram posts.
Lindsey Meehleis and Courtney Ellis, two midwives who helped the couple during the births of their children and remain close with the family, set up the crowdfunding site to create a foundation in honor of the toddler.
"Part of the message and the purpose of this foundation that they're creating is to shed light on prevention,” Meehleis told TODAY.
Ellis added that “if they at least help one person than it's worth it.”
Miller and Beck are also parents to a 3-year-old son. The couple is expecting a third child in October. Miller also has two additional children from previous relationships, a 5-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter.
"Every day, every hour is different. There's nothing that's going to be normal about their lives anymore. they're going to have to find a new normal," Meehleis said.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning.
Pool safety expert Allyson Perez said she encourages parents to get babies in the water as early as 3 months.
“Children are not going to learn how to swim when they're 3 months old but they're going to build foundations and build skills that are going to make them more confident in the water,” she said.
But tragedy can strike quietly and quickly in a pool.
"Drowning is a very quick and silent event. It can happen in as short as 20-60 seconds," said Adam Katchmarchi, president of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance. "The number one point with that is to actively supervise your children at all times around the water."