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Drowning Awareness Month kicks off at Phoenix Children's Hospital

Linda Black and her son, Santana, attend the kick-off event Wednesday, July 31, at Phoenix Children's Hospital to Drowning Impact Awareness Month. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- August is Drowning Impact Awareness Month in Arizona.

To mark the beginning of the event, people placed ribbons on trees Wednesday at Phoenix Children's Hospital.

"The 2,000 ribbons that are attached to the trees out here in the courtyard each represent a child who has been involved in a drowning incident since the year 2000," said Debra Stevens, marketing manager for the hospital.

One of those children is 8-year-old Santana Black of Gilbert. In 2006, a babysitter found Black in a pool after he had been underwater for 20 minutes, which resulted in brain damage. Black is now in a wheelchair and can't speak or smile.

His mother, Linda Black, said people think that since he survived, everything is OK. But, she said things changed forever.

"We did lose our child," Linda said. "He can't walk. He can't eat on his own. He has a tube for all of his nutrition and all of his medication. He has a seizure disorder on top of it."

Linda said Santana's condition affects her whole family. She said her other children are often prevented from doing activities because she has to take Santana to his doctor's appointments, and that it can put a strain on everyone.

Still, Linda said Santana brings joy into everyone's lives and that she wouldn't trade him for the world.

Linda said she wants other parents to know the dangers of having their kids around water.

Drowning prevention information will be available at Phoenix Children's Hospital, as well as all Arizona YMCAs and La-Z-Boy furniture stores as part of the month-long campaign.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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