Keri and Roarke Morrison say they never expected a video of their daughter, Josie's floating lessons would go viral. It gained millions of views, however, and the family says it's raising awareness that infants six months and older should be trained to self-rescue if they accidentally end up in water.
The video was posted last fall, when Josie was about six months old. She was being trained by local instructor Stacy VanSanten through the Infant Swimming Resource Program, or ISR. Babies as young as six months old are taught to self-rescue by flipping over on their backs and floating, in case they ever accidentally fall into water.
Some reactions on social media were negative. The child's mother says she was shocked anyone wouldn't look at a baby who's been taught to float positively.
"When I look at it, the first thing that comes to my mind is amazing," Keri said. "This child saved herself. There's nothing negative about it."
The video went viral and Keri was asked to do several interviews with national and even international media outlets. Her husband, Roarke says all of the attention was never expected, but it is turning out to be positive.
"When people hear the story and about the instruction, the ISR program, then it kind of makes sense in the video and it promotes awareness," Roarke said.
Roarke and Keri run a foundation, called Live Like Jake, which helps other families train their children to self-rescue in the water from a young age. They founded after their two-year-old son, Jake drowned in 2013.
"If you would have asked us two-and-a-half-years ago if we would have thought our child ever would have drowned, we would obviously have said absolutely not, we watch him like a hawk," Keri said. "So we want people to understand it can happen to you. It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere."
Since Jake's death, the family has worked to provide scholarships for hundreds of families in need, so that they too can enroll their children in the Infant Swimming Resource Program, or ISR.
"It really helps us with our grieving process," Keri said.
She and Roarke say they're hopeful all of their recent media attention will raise awareness about the need for infant water training and draw even more families to their scholarship program.
The Live Like Jake Foundation hosts fundraisers almost every month to fund its scholarships. Money raised also goes toward helping families whose children either drowned or nearly drowned and need help with medical expenses.
One of the foundation's largest fundraisers is the Live Like Jake 5K, which is being held this weekend. A 5K run begins at 7 a.m. and a one-mile walk begins at 8 p.m. To register to run or walk in the event, click here.