Christopher Mullinex Fund preps for National Safe Boating Week
There is something in the human spirit that seeks meaning in tragedy. It is a longing only those who have experienced great loss can truly understand.
When Grand Lake resident Christopher Mullinex died over the Fourth of July weekend last year his family’s life was turned upside down. On Friday July 3, 2015 Mullinex and others were on a pontoon boat on the waters of Granby Reservoir. Around mid-afternoon that day the 31-year-old Mullinex dove under the surface of the water and never reappeared. After a multi-day search effort that involved dive teams from Summit County his body was recovered on Monday July 6.
The incident shocked Grand County and the close-knit community of Grand Lake and brought renewed focus to issues like boat and water safety. Shortly after the tragedy Christopher’s mother Dee Mullinex began working to create the Christopher Mullinex Water Rescue Fund (CMWRF). The CMWRF seeks to promote water safety and education through locally focused initiatives. Back in October last year Dee explained the mission of the CMWRF.
“Our hope for this fund is to keep water safety on the minds of everyone so all who enjoy our lakes can come home safely,” she said.
For the past several months Dee and Christopher’s aunt Laura Summers have been working closely with the Grand Lake Fire Protection District and the Grand County Sheriff’s Office to organize programs through the CMWRF that promote boat and water safety and highlight the importance of safety equipment like life jackets. Among their plans the CMWRF is working to highlight this year’s Safe Boating Week.
Wear your life jacket to work day
National Safe Boating Week is scheduled for May 21 through May 27 this year. The CMWRF is planning a “Wear Your Life Jacket to Work” day for Friday, May 20 as a lead in for the week of awareness. Residents of Grand County are encouraged to wear their life jackets to work that Friday, take photos, post them to social media with the hashtag #CHRISWRF, and send them to email@example.com. The CMWRF is also planning presentations on water safety at Indian Peaks Charter School and Granby Elementary during Safe Boating Week.
As Grand County, and the nation at large, prepare for a busy summer season recreating on the water the CMWRF has two main programs they are preparing for the year.
One is a life jacket giveaway program the organization has operated since the fall last year. The CMWRF has provided many Grand County residents with certificates for a free life jacket that are redeemable through the organization. The other project the CMWRF is working to develop is a life jacket loaner program.
The life jacket loaner program will feature containers located a select spots throughout the Three Lakes region. The containers will be filled with life jackets that can be borrowed at no charge during the course of the day and then returned when water activities are completed.
Dee Mullinex has several locations in mind and has been working with the Grand Lake Board of Trustees for approval of placing a life jacket loaner station near the Town’s beach.
“Beacon Landing has agreed to put one at their place on Granby Reservoir,” she said.
Dee Mullinex came up with the idea for life jacket loaner stations shortly after Christopher died last summer, but after researching the idea she realized how prevalent such programs are in certain regions of the US.
“These stations are huge across the country,” she said. “Alaska has over 700. I truly believe once we get them going their importance will be seen and it won’t be uncommon to see them (CMWRF loaner life jackets) on our waterways.”
She hopes to have some of the loaner stations built and ready for use by Memorial Day.
“We can’t make people do the right thing,” she said. “We can just give them the tools…If I can save just one life, this whole thing will be worth it.”
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The Grand Lake Fire Protection District has abandoned a voter-approved effort to run its own EMS transports as the department and county officials re-evaluate how that service might be provided.