The anniversary of my dad’s death came and went this year with little emotion other than the lingering rawness one will always feel after experiencing the loss of someone close. On the day after the anniversary of his death, I was almost angry with myself for not having cried more than I did or not just sitting around on the couch staring at the walls. Then I realized, I was too busy doing work for my clients to behave in that manner, and dad would be proud that I am where I am today.
Speaking of being proud, I was always proud of my dad’s accomplishments. Whether it was knowing how hard he worked with three jobs while getting his business off the ground, or how much extra effort he gave to provide not only for his family but for others who were also in need. And, I cannot even begin to say how proud I was of his swimming accomplishments.
His swimming endeavors and adventures were known around the world, but most certainly known in Rochester. In 1970, he began coaching for the Rochester Swim Club, and shortly in, he realized they needed a new pool. He was quoted as “being the driving force behind not only a new pool, but the construction of the Rochester Recreation Center (which was built in 1973).”
For over 40 years he poured his heart and soul into his own swimming career. But, he did not stop there. He impacted the lives on a daily basis of anyone who was on the pool deck as a coach, a masters swimmer, and a friend. And even then, he wasn’t satisfied with his accomplishments and pushed himself until he became a world-renowned open-water swimmer.
You can imagine our family’s pride when all the work he did for the swimming community was recognized by way of changing one of the biggest meets in the state’s name to the “Vince Herring Classic.” It made sense, as it was an event he helped start 35 years ago and, to this day, attracts over 700 swimmers in one weekend. Every year, our family attends the meet and spends hundreds of dollars on the apparel that includes a tiny character resembling him swimming.
This year, as I searched the world-wide-web to confirm the date of the meet so as to not miss out on the apparel, I discovered there was no “Vince Herring Classic”, which left me perplexed. In checking with someone who would be in the know, I was told, “The swim meet name was changed, but they called your mom, and she said it didn’t matter to her.” Incredulous with this response, I angrily asked my mom who this could be. She emphatically told me no one had contacted her, and she was saddened by the change.
So, I turned to the club itself for an answer, and this is what I was told, “This year, with the return of more normal meets after Covid, our meets were renamed to reflect sponsorship opportunities as this has been a financially difficult couple of years for the club. With the meet landing on Presidents Day weekend, it was a general name unless a sponsor picked it up. This was decided last fall, not recently. By no means was this meant to be stripping Vince of his legacy. Covid has forced needed sponsorships. RSC has not forgotten Vince and all he did for the Rochester swimming community.”
Planning events in the non-profit world for nearly 20 years and raising money is not new to me. And, I also know that events can be named the name forever and have the words, “Sponsored by . . . “ behind them. The answer astounded and hurt to the core. What does this teach our youth? Is that all that is important in this world today is money? The age-old adage comes into play here, “money talks”, and that’s it.