The mother of a 10-year-old Texan girl is on a reward mission after her child was rescued from a deadly rip current. She wants to fund a dream wedding and honeymoon for the heroic savior and his fiancée to express gratitude for his outstanding act of bravery.
In August, Haylee Whiting was on a vacation with her siblings, mom, and grandmother in Monterey, California, when the little girl got into trouble in the water. Her mother, Samantha, requested she return to the shore but noticed that Haylee was being pulled deeper out in the sea.
Worried, Samantha immediately rushed to help but became tangled in the very same current.
“I was thinking, ‘This is not happening. There’s no way I’m being pulled out,’” Haylee regaled to KFSN. “I was terrified.”
“I had [Haylee] on my back,” Samantha later recalled on a GoFundMe page, “but it was slowly taking both of us down.”
Meters away, Kevin Cozzi and his fiancée, from Merced, heard the cries for help. Kevin, a competitive swimmer since the age of 3, immediately felt he could reach the distressed pair.
“I ran out there, and as soon as I got to the mom, I knew she was struggling,” he explained.
Kevin reached Haylee and successfully returned her to the shoreline, where a lifeguard joined the rescue effort. The pair retrieved Samantha, too, and both mom and daughter made a full recovery without knowing the identity of their savior, beyond his first name.
As time went by, the family became determined to locate Kevin. Samantha turned to a Facebook group, Merced Neighborhood Watch, sharing her story in the hope that someone would know him, and it worked.
Samantha soon found out that Kevin and his fiancée had canceled their wedding, owing to the pandemic, giving her the perfect motivation to start a GoFundMe page. “If it wasn’t for him risking his life in such a selfless act I would have lost not only my own life but my baby girl,” Samantha reflected.
“I want to raise money for Kevin and his fiancée to have their dream wedding and honeymoon,” she explained, adding, “Lord knows he deserves so much more than this.”
In an update on Nov. 2, Samantha informed donors that the money raised (i.e. over $51,000) would go toward a wedding ceremony, honeymoon, and even a downpayment on a home. “Kevin and his fiancée are still so humble, saying they don’t deserve this,” she said.
To Samantha, no amount of money is enough to repay the gift of her daughter’s well-being. Additionally, Samantha revealed that she and Haylee plan to attend the wedding in fall 2021.
Watch the video:
(Courtesy of Samantha Whiting)
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