Laughter. Music. Splashing. Hugs, and even a couple of tears.
All of these marked a very special weekend at the Greater Marco Family YMCA. The festivities began at 11 AM with the annual Healthy Kids Day, a kickoff to summer activities to help kids be “active from head to toe.” The event was complete with games, arts and crafts, bounce house, healthy foods and a vendors court with a Scholastic Book Fair.
The main attraction of the day — the dedication of the aquatics center to “Ms. Dottie” Weiner — was held at 1 PM. In addition to naming the Y’s pool area “The Ms. Dottie Weiner Aquatics Center,” the Collier County Board of Commissioners also proclaimed April 27, 2012, “Ms. Dottie Weiner Day.”
“What a week! President Bush gets his library, and Dottie gets her pool,” quipped Ernie Bretzmann, a good friend of Ms. Dottie’s and the former head of the United Way of Collier County.
Chief Executive Officer Cindy Love echoed the sentiment to the standing room-only crowd on the pool deck: “At the Y,our impact is felt everyday, and that is through our mission… Ms. Dottie has been enriching lives for years. You will always be THE swim instructor.”
Ms. Dottie has been a fixture of Marco Island for the last 40 years, teaching more than 10,000 children how to swim and about the importance of safety in the water. In fact, she was instrumental in helping the Y establish its original aquatics center.
Many of the folks touched by Ms. Dottie were in the audience during the ceremony, sharing thank yous, stories and smiles. One of those people was 11-year-old Madeline Burt.
Now a fifth grader at Tommie Barfield Elementary, Burt started swim lessons with Ms. Dottie when she was three. In February, she was ranked the No. 1 10-year-old swimmer in the state of Florida in the 50-yard and 100-yard butterfly. “Ms. Dottie is more than a swim teacher,” Burt said. “She is the reason I swim competitively.”
A very gracious Ms. Dottie thanked everyone in the crowd. “I’ve had many experiences in my life. Coming to Marco Island was the greatest of them all.”