Contacts:

DCJS: John Caher, (518) 457-8415 or (518) 225-5240 (cell)
Albany Starfish: Charlotte Hooper, 518-258-5409

For immediate release: Friday, January 22, 2010

Albany Starfish Swim Club Promotes Fitness, Safety, Charity

Young athletes to swim laps for charity while their club, DCJS sponsors Safe Child event

Demonstrating its commitment to community, child safety and physical fitness, the Albany Starfish Swim Club will hold a “Swim Mania” Saturday at Niskayuna High School, where 150 swimmers aged 6 to 18 will swim tens of thousands of laps in exchange for contributions to fight cystic fibrosis. Simultaneously, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) will hold an Operation SAFE CHILD event.

The Starfish has held the benefit for the Donna M. Crandall Foundation for the past 10 years. The Donna M. Crandall Foundation was established to support patients at Albany Medical Center Hospital who are struggling with the debilitating effects of cystic fibrosis.

DCJS will join the “Swim Mania” festivities with 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. More than 360,000 children are enrolled in Operation SAFE CHILD, and approximately 92 percent of parents or guardians have given written consent for their children’s records to be stored in the database.

 “A missing child is every parent’s worst nightmare,” said Denise E. O’Donnell, commissioner of DCJS and Governor Paterson’s deputy secretary for public safety.  “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.”

Officials from DCJS will be on hand from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, January 23 to photograph and register any child – not just those associated with the Starfish – during Swim Mania. The event will take place in the lobby outside the pool at Niskayuna High School on  Balltown Road.

“Since its founding in 1965, the Albany Starfish Swim Club has demonstrated a commitment to developing not only good swimmers, but good citizens,” said club President Molly Grygiel. “We encourage community involvement and child safety, and co-sponsoring a SAFE CHILD event with DCJS is another way we can serve our members and other families.”