Butchie’s Pool, the therapeutic swimming facility that serves people in three counties, has had funding issues over the years but it’s still around. It will hold a 30th anniversary celebration and fundraiser on Saturday, a testament to its value to the community.
“There’s something heartfelt about it, it’s a connection of compassion in all different levels of society in our community,” said the pool’s executive director Mindy Micheli.
Still on the board of directors are Larry and Norma Montna, whose 15-year-old developmentally disabled son Butchie was killed by a drunk driver over 30 years ago. Larry still gets choked up when talking about his son.
“It was an idea after we lost Butchie because he loved water … He’d have been here everyday,” said Montna.
Many of the pool’s clients, who need a doctor’s endorsement to use the pool, are here nearly every day. With its warm temperatures and wheelchair ramps, it was designed for developmentally disabled youth. But now clients of all ages use it to exercise to strengthen muscles and joints.
The buoyancy of the water helps support weakened bodies and at the same time provides resistance to muscles. 20 minutes of walking in the water is equal to 60 minutes of walking on land without pounding weakened and arthritic joints.
Sam Hickey seemed to walk effortlessly through the pool with his caregiver. The developmentally disabled 20-year-old can barely drag himself around with a walker on and uses a wheelchair to enter the water. He is unable to talk, but he had a smile on his face as he is moved through the pool.
Many of the elderly and disabled clients volunteer at the pool or are helping prepare for the Saturday event – which features a classic car show, a silent auction and raffle and an old-fashioned picnic. It’s support from the community that got the pool built thirty years ago, and it relies on the community for ongoing support.
“As long as it can serve people who need it, it should be here,” said Montna.