A usually quiet Naperville North High School was filled with some moonlighting divers this past week, taking time out of their busy summer weekends to give over their talents to charity with the “Give Kids the World One Dive at a Time” diving marathon.
North diving coach Steve Mazzarella was the organizer of the event, and for the marathon runner, the idea came out of happenstance.
“And (my divers) just looked at me and said, well why don’t we just dive all day and all night,” said Mazzarella. “I said, ‘Yeah, let’s just dive for 26 straight hours,’ and they were like yeah! Let’s do it!”
From that, the legwork began for the diving marathon, and when deciding which charity would benefit from every bounce of the board and splash of the water it was easy to choose for Mazarella. He chose the charity Give Kids the World—a charity close to his heart. Give Kids the World is a charity that gives families of children with life-threatening illnesses a free week-long trip to their “dream village” in central Florida.
In 2003 his daughter Megan was diagnosed with Juvenile Dermatomyositis, a disease that causes the immune system to attack the body’s blood vessels. The Mazzarella family was then granted a trip to Give Kids the World through the Make a Wish Foundation.
“It was one of the most memorable moments I have ever had in my life,” said Mazzarella. “And it was absolutely life-changing for me and my family.” 19 year-old Megan is now in remission and attending Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa.
The marathon got off to a rousing start with Olympian Christina Loukas making the first dive, and quite an impression on her high school counterparts.
“When he told us that he had first contacted her, we were like ‘That’s a joke right?’” said senior diver Kate Noreen. “Because you know we’ve watched her, and she’s as good as they get.”
From there, diving continued throughout the day and into the night, where not everybody could keep up the pace and kids could be seen sleeping anywhere they could find a spot—the bleachers, tables and the floor were some prime spots. But the diving did continue throughout the night, with some daring divers keeping up the pace throughout the overnight hours.
That was all leading up to the grand finale—the final dive by North principal Kevin Pobst. After some warm-up bounces on the board and plenty of rousing applause, Pobst plunged into the pool with somewhat of a hybrid between a dive and belly flop. Even if the form wasn’t picture perfect, with the rousing reception you wouldn’t have a clue it was less than perfect.
“I had to practice to get it right,” said Pobst with a big grin on his face. “But it was technically an insane dive.”
And 26 hours, hundreds of dives, and more than 5 thousand dollars raised later, Mazzarella couldn’t be happier.
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