At 21 months old, Adalynn Claire Flores was a fearless child.
“The daycare would tell me, ‘she keeps climbing bookshelves, she keeps climbing on chairs!’” her mother, Jennifer Flores, said.
And now, about a year after a drowning incident took her daughter’s life, Flores can’t help but wonder how that courage would have followed Adalynn into adulthood.
On Aug. 29, 2022, Adalynn drowned in her family’s at-home swimming pool. To this day, Flores struggles to understand how her daughter got out of the house and climbed over the pool’s edge without anyone noticing.
Flores struggles with grief daily, and the days surrounding the one-year anniversary of her daughter’s death were especially difficult, she said.
But she’s a mother of four, so she keeps going.
Flores has turned to advocacy to keep her daughter’s memory alive. This summer, she sponsored four Uvalde children to receive swimming lessons, donated to Uvalde Memorial Hospital and is on the cusp of launching a water safety awareness initiative.
“I don’t want to see another mother live that pain,” she said.
Learn to Swim
Adalynn loved to swim, and it’s something she’ll never get the chance to do again, Flores said. She wants to make sure other children have the opportunity to do that safely.
Earlier this summer, Flores took to Facebook to share that she wanted to pay for any child in the area to receive swimming lessons at the city’s pool.
Four children, Sophia Dunman, Diego Riojas, Madison Saiz and Jordan Mendoza, signed on, and two of them received their certificates.
Flores doesn’t mind that not everyone completed swim lessons. To her, it’s important that they tried in the first place, she said.
“Watching these kids learn something that they will carry for the rest of their lives fills my heart with some kind of relief and joy,” she said.
A few people have already reached out to donate and help sponsor other community-area children next summer. Flores said she hopes to have six or seven swimmers sign up next year.
Flores donated a number of crocheted infant burial gowns, provided by non-profit Angel Babies, to Uvalde Memorial Hospital in June.
Angel Babies is a group that focuses on pregnancy and infancy loss awareness. Through this donation, Uvalde parents who lose their babies will receive a burial gown at no cost. Each donation will be made in Adalynn’s memory, Flores said.
“It’s just kind of making her name live on,” she said.
With summer almost over, Flores has started planning for next year.
By next summer, she hopes to have free life jacket loaner stations set up at busy points along the county’s rivers. That way, families and tourists who come by to swim or float can borrow a life jacket if they don’t already have one on hand.
Flores has collected a few gently used jackets so far, and more are on the way. In late August, Continental Tire, where Flores worked, agreed to help finance her cause. The business’s committee is putting together a life jacket drive that will eventually contribute to putting up the life jacket station.
“Life jackets might not save a child, swimming lessons might not save a child, but it does reduce the chance of drowning,” Flores said.
Living with loss
Everyone grieves differently, Flores said. She said she finds it difficult to relate to her friends and family members at times, because they don’t always understand. Even so, she remains hopeful her work will help prevent other parents from having to go through what she did.
She’d like to think Adalynn would be proud to know her mom did so much to help other kids, she said.
Sofi Zeman (email@example.com, covers education and crime for the Uvalde Leader-News as a Report for America corps member.