NAPLES, Fla. — Grieving parents came together Friday night to remember their children who lost their lives to accidental drowning. The vigil was held by safety advocates at the NCH Baker Hospital Garden of Hope.
Paul Demello was the father of twin boys who tragically drowned in a pool accident 11 years ago.
"Joshua, my oldest twin died right away," says Demello. "Then Christian, my baby twin, he ended up living for three days."
The boys were only 13 months old. In the mist of Demello's grief, he found a way to keep his sons' memories alive by starting the Just Against Drowning Foundation. The non-profit is focused on water safety awareness.
"It's almost like a form of therapy," says Demello.
Tonight, in partnership with the NCH Safe & Healthy Children's Coalition of Collier County, they held the 8th Annual Twins Tot Walk Vigil to remember all 50 children who have drowned in Collier County over the past 20 years.
One by one, the name of each child was read and butterflies were released in their honor.
"Drowning is preventable, and it can happen to the best parents." says Paula Digrigoli, NCH safe & healthy children's coalition of Collier County.
Drowning remains the leading cause of death among children ages one to four years-old in Florida. Swimming lessons, safety jacket and physical barriers are some of the ways to keep kids safe.
In Florida, 68 children lost their lives to drowning last year.