Division of Criminal Justice Services

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Contact: John Caher, Press Office
(518) 457-8415 or (518) 225-5240 (cell)
For immediate release: November 29, 2007



DCJS to Distribute Safe Child Cards During “Swim Mania”

With an ounce of luck and a ton of stamina, young swimmers with the Albany Starfish will swim 20,000 laps of the Niskayuna High School pool Saturday as they attempt to raise money to help local victims of cystic fibrosis. Simultaneously, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services will distribute free safe child cards.

“Swim Mania” is an annual Starfish event in which members of the team swim laps in exchange for donations used to support the Donna M. Crandall Foundation and the team’s learn-to-swim scholarship program.

The Donna M. Crandall Foundation was established to provide support for patients at Albany Medical Center Hospital who are struggling with the debilitating effects of cystic fibrosis. The Starfish, in addition to its competitive team, offers a learn-to-swim program, providing scholarships to children who could not otherwise afford lessons. There are about 180 children on the Starfish team, and they will attempt to swim a total of 500,000 yards on Saturday.

This year, the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) will join the “Swim Mania” festivities with a special appearance by McGruff the Crime Dog and an initiative to enroll as many children as possible in the Operation Safe Child program.

Operation SAFE CHILD provides parents or legal guardians with a card that includes their child’s vital information, such as date of birth, gender, height, weight and eye color, along with a photograph and fingerprints of both index fingers. If the parent or guardian wishes, that information will be stored in a secure database so that it can be disseminated instantly if a child is abducted or lost.

“A missing child is every parent’s worst nightmare,” said Commissioner Denise E. O’Donnell of DCJS.  “Time is the greatest enemy if a child goes missing. Having up-to-date photographs and detailed information about a child can greatly assist law enforcement officials as they respond to a child's disappearance.”

Swimmers will be in the water from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Niskayuna High School pool on Balltown Road. Operation Safe Child will take place from 11-1 p.m.