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GEHA and the Hunt Family Foundation support Delaney 37 Foundation with $10,000 to mark the 40th anniversary of Kansas City Chiefs running back’s heroic passing

GEHA | May 22, 2023

Funds will honor Joe Delaney, who tragically died while trying to save three children from drowning, and will address inequities in aquatic safety by providing swim lessons to students in Haughton, Louisiana.

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. (May 22, 2023)GEHA (Government Employees Health Association, Inc., pronounced G.E.H.A.) and The Hunt Family Foundation today announced they will jointly fund swimming lessons for children in the hometown of legendary Kansas City Chiefs running back Joe Delaney.

GEHA and The Hunt Family Foundation are each giving $5,000 to the Delaney 37 Foundation. Organized by Delaney’s widow and daughters, the foundation provides children in the community around Haughton, Louisiana, with mentorship and education, including programs for water safety, financial literacy and leadership. The $10,000 from GEHA and The Hunt Family Foundation will be used to provide a series of weekly and monthly swimming lessons and aquatic safety programs to the community. To provide an equitable experience from start to finish, the funds will also be used for transportation to neighboring Bossier City, Louisiana, which is the closest swimming pool/facility to Haughton, Louisiana.

“If my dad saw a need, he was going to step in and help,” said Joanna Noel, youngest daughter of Joe Delaney and Delaney 37 Foundation leader. “My father would be proud of the work that is being done in his name by GEHA and The Hunt Family Foundation to make swimming safer for many families.”

On June 29, 1983, Joe Delaney lost his life while attempting to rescue three children from drowning in a pond in Monroe, Louisiana. Despite not being able to swim, he immediately entered the water to help – an effort that resulted in one child being saved.

“As we expand our efforts with The Hunt Family Foundation and the YMCA of Greater Kansas City to ensure that children are safe through the Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program, presented by GEHA, it is fitting that we extend our efforts to Delaney’s hometown and the programs of the Delaney 37 Foundation that honor his memory,” said Art Nizza, DSW, GEHA President and CEO. “With swimming and aquatics water safety programs, we have an opportunity to conquer an unacceptable threat to underrepresented youth today and to address an injustice of the past.”

According to a 2017 USA Swimming Foundation study, 64% of Black children in the U.S. cannot swim and are six times more likely to drown than White children. This inequity became a reality for Kansas City, Kansas residents following the heartbreaking death of 13-year-old Emmanuel Solomon in July 2021.

GEHA and partners, YMCA of Greater Kansas City, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, KS Public Schools, felt the impact of this tragedy and worked to address the disparities in aquatic education by providing 200 students with swim lessons the following summer at Parkwood Pool, the only public pool in Kansas City, KS and site of the tragedy. In addition, GEHA employees provided necessary equipment including a swimsuit, towel and goggles, for each participating child in need.

Notably, all children significantly improved their swimming and safety abilities despite only 38% having ever been fully submerged in the water and only 8% having previously received lessons.

Inspired by that success, in October 2022, GEHA and The Hunt Family Foundation collaborated to provide an additional $50,000 in order to expand the program to more neighborhoods in the Kansas City area with similar aquatic safety risks.

Because of this support, 650 additional students will now receive swimming lessons and swimming equipment at five Kansas City metro locations, including the North Kansas City YMCA, the Linwood YMCA/James B. Nutter, Sr. Community Center, the Cleaver Family YMCA, the Kirk Family YMCA and the Parkwood Pool. This expanded program is now recognized as the Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program, Presented by GEHA, where each student receives a swim towel bearing the Delaney tribute decal worn by the Kansas City Chiefs during the 1983 season.

“The work that the Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program, presented by GEHA, has done in our community to address water safety and access is truly inspiring,” Chiefs President Mark Donovan said. “To be able to work alongside our partners at GEHA, as well as Joe’s family, to launch the program with the Delaney 37 Foundation in his hometown and the surrounding areas speaks to the commitment of GEHA and the Hunt Family Foundation and further honors Joe’s heroic actions.”

GEHA is a nonprofit member association that provides medical and dental benefits to more than 2 million federal employees and retirees, military retirees and their families. Offering one of the largest medical and dental benefit provider networks available to federal employees in the United States, GEHA empowers health and wellness by meeting its members where they are, when they need care. Headquartered in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, with approximately 1,600 employees, GEHA is committed to its members and their communities.

GEHA and its partners received an Outstanding Aquatic Branch Program Award from the Kansas Recreational and Parks Association. The award recognizes the impact of the 2022 Parkwood Pool Learn to Swim Program, a collaborative effort to provide children in one of the nation’s poorest ZIP codes with swimming lessons and equipment. In addition, GEHA has gained distinctive civic recognition by being named one of the top 100 Healthiest Workplaces in America, recognized by Newsweek Magazine as one of the 2023 Most Trustworthy Companies in America, ranked #55 on the Forbes 2023 America’s Best Midsize Employers list, 2022 Corporate Partner of the Year for the Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the 2022 Nonprofit Champion of Diversity for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and, in 2022, GEHA signed the CEO Action Pledge, furthering its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Since 2021, GEHA has held exclusive naming rights to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, home to the Kansas City Chiefs.

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The Delaney 37 Foundation was created in the legacy of Joe Alton Delaney. The mission of the Delaney 37 Foundation is to serve the youth, striving to mentor, educate, promote leadership development, teach financial literacy and promote water safety. The Delaney 37 Foundation creates opportunities that will build strong moral character as the youth transform into contributing citizens in the community.

Founded as the Dallas Texans in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL) by sports pioneer Lamar Hunt, the franchise moved to Kansas City in 1963 and became known as the Kansas City Chiefs. The team currently competes in the West Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). Under the guidance of the Hunt Family and the leadership of Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt, the mission of the Kansas City Chiefs is to Win with Character, Unite our Community, Inspire our Fans and Honor Tradition. The Hunt Family Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation committed to making a positive impact in the communities where the Chiefs live and work through philanthropy, programming and volunteerism. In order to maximize financial support, the Hunt Family Foundation gives priority to organizations that demonstrate a major programmatic focus and commitment to the service of children’s health and wellness, children and families in crisis, civic responsibility and the legacy of the Kansas City Chiefs and the National Football League.

Lisa Ketteler (GEHA) | 816-434-2508