Sam Emert knew just what to do when he arrived at the County Fair Swim Club on Sunday.
After exchanging a hug with Missi Pfeifer, who manages the 56-year-old neighborhood pool at 2119 Maple Lane, the boy shed his clothes down to swim trunks and joined the other children swimming and diving in the pool on its opening day.
It was natural for Sam, who counts trips to the pool as one of his favorite summer pastimes.
“I like to play with my friends at the pool,” he said. “It’s real fun.”
Sam thinks all kids should be able to enjoy that summer pastime, and he came up with an idea that raised $389 to help East Lawrence youngsters once again enjoy a summer of swimming at the pool.
The boy’s mother, Anne Emert, said Sam was motivated to raise the money when he read a Journal-World story about 11-year-old Rylee Griffin, of Eudora, selling friendship bracelets to help raise money for the coming liver transplant surgery of her 3-year-old friend Genevieve Kiene.
“Sam said he wanted to do something to help someone, too,” she said. “He loves to swim, so he came up with this idea. The article really inspired him. To me, it’s about how one good deed can lead to others.”
Sam attended kindergarten last school year at Raintree Montessori School, and his mother credits the lessons students are taught at the school, about community and helping others, with her son’s generous spirit and with making his idea a fundraising reality.
Sam took the idea to his Raintree kindergarten teacher Emma Ewert, Anne Emert said. The teacher made Sam’s idea a class project with six other students in the kindergarten class helping plan and then run the lemonade stand during the school’s two-day craft sale in late April, she said.
The stand vending lemonade and chocolate chip cookies was set up in front of the school, Sam said.
“We made a lot of lemonade,” Sam said. “When the students got there in the morning, we started baking our cookies and making lemonade. Then, we would set up in the afternoon. We maybe refilled the cooler with lemonade 21 times.”
Sam would later present a check and letter to Pfeifer, but he never had an opportunity to swim at the pool until Sunday when the pool opened for the season. Pfeifer said the same anonymous benefactor who saved the 2016 season with a late $10,000 contribution donated $5,000 this year. Still, she and others with the County Fair Swim Club are grateful for all donations that help with the pool’s operational and maintenance costs and certainly appreciative of the gift from Sam and his classmates.
“He’s a neat kid," she said.
After a few turns on the pool’s diving board Sunday, Sam said he was pleased he got to come to the pool. He’s more pleased its regular users have a place to cool off and have fun during their school vacations.
“Now, they can swim and be strong before the coldness comes back,” he said. “And they can have fun.”
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