Keeping Michael Rohan's memory alive

Thursday, January 4, 2018
The Michael Rohan Memorial Fund pays for the kindergarten and first-grade students in Clay County to participate in an introduction to water safety and lifesaving skills classes the last week of school each year. (Above) Recently, Angie Hetrick, of Cylinder, won a 40-inch quilt which was raffled to benefit the fund. The raffle raised a little more than $2,000 (Photo submitted)

The memory of Michael Rohan remains etched in the minds of the Spencer community. Annually family, friends and loved ones continue to support a mission outreach in his honor.

Michael lost his life in an accident at Spencer Family Aquatic Center in 2012. Since his passing, the Rohans, Michael's father Kevin and his mother Susan have worked in cooperation with the Spencer Family YMCA to make sure area youth receive water safety training by providing programs and scholarships to eligible participants.

The Michael Rohan Memorial Fund recently collected approximately $2,000 through a quilt raffle, won by Angie Hetrick, of Cylinder, and will put the money toward its youth programming.

"It is a way to keep his memory alive for us," said Susan Rohan, vice president and founder of the fund. "There is a lot of sorrow, anger, and frustration that comes with grief. This is a way we can commemorate him and this is a way to keep his memory alive for the community which was really rocked by his passing 5 1/2 years ago.

"The students learn things like the rules around the pool before you leap into the water, how to handle when another child calls for help, rolling over on your back so you can float when you are tired and a variety of other things.

The fund became a nonprofit in March 2013, but the Rohans have been working with the Spencer Family YMCA since August 2012.

The fund donates approximately 10 scholarships a year on the basis of financial need and pays for the kindergarten and first grade classes in all Clay County for an introduction to water safety and some lifesaving skills the last week of school each year.

The fund is also considering expanding, with the help of the Red Cross, to provide summer swimming lessons for six months to children 5 years old and up who live in Clay County. The proposed expansion will depend on funding.

"Michael was always just a kind, loving child we adored," Susan Rohan said. "This program helps us to deal with the grief we still have. The community as a whole has supported in a way that is insurmountable. You can't put words to that because it is too special, too precious. You see things that are going on and the community has rallied around them. Mike didn't live through his accident, but seeing the people rally around Lane and Austin. It is great to see that the Spencer community is dong that. It is healing."

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