BRISTOL, Virginia (WJHL) – The Bristol Casino has partnered with the Bristol YMCA to donate to and support the Little Floaters swim program.

Nicole Hughes, a mother and teacher, lost her young son Levi in 2018 when he drowned. The devastation of the incident made an impact on her family and the community.

“The year after we lost Levi, Rick Matthews and Suzane Wantland with the Bristol YMCA reached out to me about bringing different swim lessons to our area, and it’s truly just been incredible,” said Hughes.

The casino presented the YMCA with a $10,000 donation for the program.

Rick Matthews is the President and CEO of the Bristol YMCA. He said that they would like to try and expand these swim lessons to other YMCA locations.

Hughes has been advocating to parents that they should start swim lessons early, wanting them to know that swimming accidents do occur between the ages of 1-4 years old. She said drowning is not an uncommon tragedy among children of a young age.

The Little Floaters is a program in which parents can sign their child up for at the YMCA so that children as early as 12 months can learn how to flip and float to receive air in case of any emergency or accident.

Both Hughes and Matthews said they have great support from the community and from the Hard Rock Casino in Bristol.