A Texas family is hoping to thank the man who saved their daughter from drowning by raising money for his wedding.
The incident happened in August, when 10-year-old Haylee Whiting was playing in the sea in Monterey, California. Her mother, Samantha, had asked her daughter to come closer to shore, but Haylee found herself caught in a rip current.
The current was quickly taking Haylee further out to sea.
“This is not happening. There’s no way I’m being pulled out,” Haylee remembered.
Samantha tried to go to her rescue and managed to reach Haylee, but she ‘underestimated the current’ and found that the water was ‘slowly taking both of [them] down.’
Haylee said she was ‘terrified’, and the screaming caught the attention of Kevin Cozzi, who was on the beach nearby with his fiancée.
As ABC7 News reported, Kevin said he’s been swimming competitively since he was three years old, so he felt he would be capable enough to get to the mother and daughter.
“I ran out there and as soon as I got to the mom, I knew she was struggling,” Kevin explained.
Thankfully, Kevin was able to reach Haylee and pull her closer to shore, where a lifeguard came to their aid.
Samantha only ever knew Kevin by his first name, and for months she felt she needed to find him to properly express her gratitude. In a bid to connect once again, she posted about the rescue in a Facebook group called Merced Neighborhood Watch this week, and within hours she was in contact with Kevin.
After learning that Kevin and his fiancée had to cancel their wedding due to the pandemic, Samantha decided to set up a GoFundMe page to help the man afford his dream wedding.
“If it wasn’t for him risking his life in such a selfless act I would have lost not only my own life but my baby girl,” a message from GoFundMe reads. “I want to raise money for Kevin and his fiancée to have their dream wedding and honeymoon, any amount helps and is much appreciated. Lord knows he deserves so much more than this.”
Samantha set a goal of $50,000, and more than 1,000 people have already donated more than $31,500. She thanked everyone for their support and expressed her hopes that the money may even help Kevin and his future wife put a down payment on a house.
“Kevin and his fiancée are still so humble saying they don’t deserve this. I feel like if I had the money to give them anything in life I would because they saved my world, my child. My family will now have a bond with this man and his family forever, we ARE family now,” Samantha said.
Samantha and Haylee plan to attend Kevin’s wedding, where they will thank him once again for his heroic rescue.