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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lifeguard Reunion to Support Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities

By James Lomuscio

David Jones, a 1971 Staples High School graduate who lives in Rhode Island, said it was his complete remission from Stage 4 metastatic colon and liver cancer last Labor Day that transformed him and his outlook on life.

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David Jones: determined “to give back.”  Contributed photo

It was a turnaround that took him from high-pressure sales to philanthropy –- and full circle now as he orchestrates a fundraiser for his old Staples High School friend Stew Leonard Jr. and the Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities.

Jones’ new chapter began last fall when after more than 40 years in sales, marketing and communications, he decided to parlay those energies into philanthropy.

Determined to “give back,” he became involved in hospital development, becoming major gifts officer for a not-for-profit 100-bed community hospital.

Shortly afterwards he became president and CEO of the Warwick, R.I.-based Capital Wealth Foundation, the aim of which he said “is to do things better,” be it research, new technology for a worthy cause, or specific educational programs.

One cause that struck a chord with Jones was the Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities founded in 1990 by Stew Leonard, Jr. and his wife Kim in memory of their 21-month-old son who had drowned Jan. 1, 1989.

The organization provides 10,000 free or low-cost swimming lessons to children every year, according to its website.

Since it began, it has raised more than $2 million that also goes towards water safety awareness and education, including lifeguard training.

Jones, who had been a lifeguard at Compo Beach from 1972 to 1975 and who was a friend with Leonard at Staples, reconnected with him at a recent high school reunion. Soon after, the creative wheels were set in motion.

“What I’m doing now is contacting every Compo lifeguard,” Jones said. “I found the oldest, Paul Lane. He was the head coach at Staples, and I played for him.

“Each one of the lifeguards will donate a check,” he added. “They will go through the foundation then we will present one check, a big check, to the Stew Leonard III Charities.”

The event is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 27, at the Compo Pavilion, and as many lifeguards as he can find, past and present, will be in attendance, Jones said.

Donations are not limited to the lifeguards, either, he said.

“I’m asking everybody in Westport I know,” Jones said.

“This is one of the initiatives I could not be more proud of, and I look forward getting back to my roots in Westport and helping,” said Jones.

Donations can be sent to: Capital Wealth Foundation, 1300 Division St., Suite 203, West Warwick, RI 02893. Put “water safety” in the memo line. For more information, call Jones at (401)500-3256.

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Posted 06/27/17 at 05:45 PM  Permalink



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