Drennen Peter O’Melia died on June 6, 2010. The day after one of his best swim meets he attended a birthday party at a country club pool near his home. The O’Melia family received strong support from family, friends and their local community. Drennen’s parents knew after he passed that they needed to give back to the community that had been so supportive. Initially, the family focused their attention on supporting a new youth center at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Centennial, where Drennen and his family were members. Drennen had been excited about the possibility of this youth center. Due to financial constraints, the youth center did not look like it would happen for a few years. The church approached the family and made a commitment to complete the youth center in his honor. After a year of fundraising by the church with the help from the O’Melia’s and hundreds of volunteers from the community, The Drennen O’Melia Youth Center, lovingly called The D’Zone, was opened on June 6, 2012, exactly two years after Drennen passed away.
In 2012 Bill and Melissa, with help and input from friends, funded the Drennen’s Dreams Fund, a donor-advised fund housed at The Denver Foundation. They saw the spark in the community that had helped create the D’Zone and believed that it could be harnessed for greater good. The community had their first fundraising event, the SplashDash 5k Run, on June 9, 2013. Over 450 runners participated. The Fund made donations to the Bereavement Program at Colorado Children’s Hospital for Aurora Shooting Victims/Families as well as Littleton Public Schools Foundation. The Fund was able to give $10,000 to local and national organizations in 2013 including:
- Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross
- National Swimming Pool Foundation
- National Drowning Prevention Alliance and its local affiliate the Colorado Drowning Prevention Task Force
- The D’Zone youth center operated by St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church and named after Drennen
- Littleton Youth Sports
- Littleton Public Schools Foundation
After the O’Melia’s were invited to share Drennen’s story with several aquatics organizations the opportunity to focus on drowning prevention and water safety evolved. The organization became a 501c3 nonprofit in 2014. A lifeguard presentation was developed that Drennen’s Dreams Foundation was invited to share nationally. That outreach continues to expand locally, regionally and nationally. The organization joined Families United to Prevent Drowning, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, Pool Safely and many others. Drennen’s Dreams Foundation board members and staff are invited to offer keynotes, serve on expert panels, have been interviewed by media and serve on a variety of leadership and steering teams.
Donations to Drennen’s Dreams Foundation fund the presentations and resources we offer. Our presentations and videos reach hundreds of thousands of lifeguard and aquatics professionals, which in turn affect millions of families.