Meet Edina's Hometown Heroes

Edina is made up of people who pride themselves with making the city a great place for living, learning, raising families and doing business.

Katey & Scott Taylor

Pool safety advocate Katey Taylor often prefaces her talks on the subject with analogies any parent can relate to. Everyone knows the importance of wearing seatbelts and of securing small children in car seats. Similarly, few parents would let their child ride a bike or scooter without a helmet. Simply put, the possible repercussions of not taking these easy preventative steps are all too obvious. 

In contrast, the no less serious dangers presented by faulty, ill-maintained or otherwise unsafe pool facilities and equipment are easy for anyone to overlook – hidden, just below the surface.

Katey and her husband, Scott, learned this terrible lesson in 2007 when, after a day of family fun at a local pool, their 6-year-old daughter Abbey sustained serious injuries from an improperly maintained wading pool drain. Against medical odds, she survived that first harrowing night. For the next nine months, through a roller coaster ride of good weeks and bad that included 16 surgeries and a triple-organ transplant, Abbey lived life to the fullest before finally succumbing from complications in March 2008.

The Taylors will forever treasure those nine months. During this time, Abbey expressed repeatedly a selfless desire to see that no one else suffer a horrific and preventable accident like hers. “That really forced us out of the box. Abbey put us on our path in the nonprofit sector,” Katey said.

“We were truly blessed in this,” she added. “This community really takes care of its own, and we had a lot of help and support in getting started.” With such assistance, under the able stewardship of her parents, Abbey’s hope became Abbey’s Hope, a charitable foundation dedicated to increasing the safety standards of pool construction and operation while educating the public about the dangers of drain entrapment and evisceration.

“In my work, I’ve dealt with a lot of grieving parents who’ve lost a child,” said Alan Korn, executive director of the Foundation. “In that position, with that grief, most choose to do nothing. Understandably, they just have trouble dealing. Katey and Scott chose to do something meaningful and selfless, even though it’s a constant reminder of their loss.”

Today, Abbey’s hope is a reality for swimmers everywhere. Abbey’s Hope was a driving force behind the adoption of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, a federal law requiring all public pools and spas to comply with strict safety benchmarks. Shortly thereafter, the Taylors also became a catalyst for Minnesota’s own bill, named the Abigail Taylor Pool Safety Act in Abbey’s honor.

These achievements, impressive in their own right, are only the beginning. “By becoming part of the aquatic safety space, we learned about the even bigger danger of drowning,” Katey said. Last year, in Minnesota alone, 39 children died in non-boating drowning accidents. Abbey’s Hope is working on multiple fronts to make such grim statistics a thing of the past. Its current initiatives include co-partnering with the YMCA and other organizations to bring swim lessons to Twin Cities area children, developing a popular “Water Watchdog” program for parents, and bestowing charitable gifts to community organizations with likeminded goals.

Without a doubt, there is still important work to be done. But Katey and Scott can look with some pride on the newest round of statistics. At present, Minnesota ranks as the safest state to swim in a pool in the United States.

15 of 38  Heroes

© 2014 City Of Edina, Minnesota