Members of Kraken Swimming high-school swimming program are wearing purple T-shirts and have dyed the tips of their hair purple for Friday’s Ohio State Athletic Association sectional swim meet at the University of Akron.
Purple is the color of the Alzheimer’s movement.
Two members of the Kraken team, Isabella DeMalio of Howland and Katherine Kali of Ursuline High, have very personal reasons for recommending that the 19-member team choose Alzheimer’s awareness as a service project.
They realized they had something in common. Both girls have experienced Alzheimer’s disease in their family.
Katherine, though very young at the time, remembers the death of her great-grandmother, Susan Oslovic of Hubbard, from Alzheimer’s.
Additionally, while singing Christmas carols to Alzheimer’s patients at Ohio Living of Youngstown, formerly Park Vista, as a school service project, she was reminded of her great-grandmother.
“I saw the joy in their faces and eyes while we sang,” Katherine said.
Isabella was older than Katherine when her grandfather, Gene Zoba, died in 2013.
“I knew him very well. It was hard for me and my family to watch what happened to him,” she said.
“We wanted to do something for something. We thought, why not Alzheimer’s,” Isabella said.
The T-shirts, made for the team by Eagle Wear in Hubbard, and sold by team members, netted about $300 for the Alzheimer’s patients at Ohio Living of Youngstown. For persons wanting to donate, information on buying a T-shirt can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Printed on the front of the purple T-shirt are: “Swim to Remember,” and the slogan, “Purple Color For A Cure.” On the back of the shirt are the names of high schools represented on the Kraken team: Hubbard, Liberty, Maplewood, Howland and Ursuline.
The swimmers say team members are like family, as evidenced by the Alzheimer’s project, even though they compete for their home high schools.
Working out with teammates that are like family makes swimming easier, said Katherine, who noted that swimmers are in the pool five or six days a week and more when they have meets.
The whole team, boys and girls, support one another, said Toni Kali, Katherine’s mother and host for Saturday’s purple hair project.
“It’s a wonderful thing to see,” Kali said.
“That’s what’s so nice about clubs like this. Team members get to know people from a wider area. This is a great group of kids,” she said.
Coaches of the Kraken Swimming high-school team are Brandon Staley, head coach; Missy DeMattio, strength and conditioning; and Aaron Wirtz and Trish Wirtz, assistants.
Kraken Swimming practices and hosts home swim meets at the Hubbard Community Pool, 200 Hall Ave., Hubbard.