On June 24, 1927, Bea Bonner and two friends were boating on Fox Lake when an unexpected storm hit the lake. In the turmoil of the storm, two men in a boat tried to rescue the girls. In spite of attempts to save them, her two young friends and one of the men drowned. It was only because she was a strong swimmer that Bea was able to survive. The message of this tragedy never left Bea. Because of the McKinstry’s concern and generosity, an endowment fund was established to benefit all youth, and hopefully prevent such a tragedy.
The Endowment Fund
The commitment of Bea Bonner McKinstry to the YMCA of Dodge County and her desire for all youth to learn to swim inspired the establishment of a special endowment fund. In honor of her eightieth birthday in 1989, her husband Randall McKinstry and her son John B. McKinstry created an endowment fund to establish the YMCA’s Bea Bonner McKinstry Begin to Swim Program. To this day, John B. McKinstry continues his mother’s legacy with ongoing dedication and commitment to the Begin to Swim Program. John’s work with the Y has ensured that each year, over 125 youth receive their first swim lessons.
One of the primary purposes of this annual program is to provide a no cost opportunity for all children to learn to swim at the Y. Another purpose is to convey the extreme importance for all to learn how to swim at an early age. It is the McKinstry’s intent to fulfill these two purposes through the endowment fund and by sharing Bea Bonner McKinstry’s personal experience with a swimming related tragedy.