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Living through COVID-19, Part XIII

A timely rescue — 

Entrepreneur James Cook took his family on vacation to Destin, Fla. last week and, while there, helped save a man and his two sons from drowning.

Cook, his, wife, children, and Cook’s sister Jannah Cook, were on a boat anchored off Crab Island when he noticed two boys, who appeared to be about 9 and 11 years old, and wearing floatation devices, being pulled away from their boat by the tide.

Cook, who was not wearing a floatation device, said he immediately realized that the boys were in peril and dived into the water after them. By that time, the boy’s father dived into the water, but was being pulled farther away by the tide. He also was not wearing a floatation device.

Jannah Cook, jumped into the water and helped corral the boys. Cook said he swam after the father and helped rescue him. Cook said the man had to be resuscitated.

Asked about his and Jannah’s swimming prowess, Cook credited his mother, Valerie Snipes, with making sure they knew how to swim at an early age.

The water depth around Crab Island is generally shallow, which makes it a popular anchoring spot for boaters and swimmers.

The depth of the water can vary, however, and the tides can make swimming tricky. A 40-year-old man died Saturday (Aug. 1) after reportedly diving off the back of boat, the third drowning in the area since June, according to a report in The Destin Log newspaper.

Cook said the family decided to take a vacation as relief from COVID-19 restrictions. He said they were extremely cautious about COVID-19 dangers, renting an Airbnb and avoiding crowds. Luckily, he said, the usually packed Destin was not overly crowded.

A slight uptick in airport passenger traffic allowed Cook to recently reopen his two eateries Lenny’s Grill and Subs and Runway 901 Bar & Grill – at Memphis International Airport on limited schedules.

Grandma’s Big Vote

Barber William Gandy Jr. is pushing ahead with his planned musical production “Grandma’s Big Vote” on Oct. 25 at the Orpheum Theatre’s Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education.

And, he is praying the COVID-19 pandemic will have ease enough to allow a live audience. If not, he plans to stage the event virtually.

Shelby County’s reported COVID-19 cases stood at 22,317 Wednesday (Aug. 5), up 197 from Tuesday (Aug. 4), according to the Shelby County Health Department. There have been 293 reported COVID-19 deaths.

“Grandma’s Big Vote” is based on a book Gandy authored with same title about his 106-year-old grandmother Mary Alice Gandy, who made national headlines when she cast a vote for the first time in her life. She voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

The play is a reboot of the successful production he staged at the Kroc Center six years ago. It is a full musical production and, this time, will include a tribute to renown voting-rights advocate U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who died July 17.

New members

Margaret Cowan, founder of the nonprofit I Am My Sister’s Keeper, said two new mothers have joined her group.

The nonprofit helps single working mothers increase their earning potential.

Meanwhile, the group, in cooperation with the Mid-South Food Bank, will hold a mobile food bank Thursday (Aug. 6) at Longview Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church at 685 E. Mallory, starting at 10 a.m.

Families will receive a two-week supply of foodstuffs.

Cowan hopes I Am My Sister’s Keeper, in partnership with the Food Bank, can hold these kinds of giveaways on a regular basis.

Before that can happen, however, Cowan said the nonprofit has to demonstrate it can hold two successful giveaways. Thursday’s event is the first one.

(Jerome Wright is deputy editor for The New Tri-State Defender.)


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