In honoring the courage of a brave little girl who in the face of cancer showed optimism and fortitude another brave family was honored as well.
The Smithtown Children’s Foundation awarded the Kaylee Rivers Courage Award to the Specht Family who lost their 22-month old son, Richard Edwin-Ehmer, nicknamed Rees, in a drowning accident in Oct. 2012. The Spechts, of Sound Beach, launched Reespecht Life, a foundation in honor of their son that encourages kindness and paying it forward.
Foundation president Christine Fitzgerald said the group decided the best way to honor Kaylee’s courage was to give out an award to someone that exemplified the courage, fortitude and optimism that only a five-year-old child can have.
“This year’s recipients were obvious to us,” said Fitzgerald. “We give each year’s courage winners one of Kaylee’s courage beads.” Fitzgerald explained that when a child goes through cancer treatments, they give them beads for various milestones along the way, such as their first IV or MRI.
“Kaylee had a string that was four-feet long,”
The ReeSpecht Life's mission is to use their son's legacy of kindness to restore a sense of community, compassion and respect. They help foster that through the sharing of ReeSpecht Life cards which read; possession of this card is a solemn promise to pay it forward and perform a random act of kindness and be one of Rees’ Pieces.
The foundation also honored Bobby Hazen, part owner of Saf-T-Swim and the founder of the LI Drowning Prevention Task Force with a community service award for his efforts to promote being safer in, on and around water.
"We presented him with a check for $1,821 towards the next printing of water safety brochures to distribute at the schools, pediatricians offices, camps, preschools and we asked him to put the Reesspechtlife logo on this printing in honor or Richard Specht and all that they have accomplished in his name," said Fitzgerald.