“I Swim For Bob Day” Draws Big Crowd to Celebrate Life of Bob Norr

Event Raises $6,700 this year, $47,000 over four years

A day full of activities ranging from laser tag to various pool activities and more, this year’s “I Swim for Bob Day” drew large numbers in both participants and fundraising proceeds.

An event that’s been conducted by Dr. Diane Blankenship and students every year since 2012, FSU has shown an abundance of support to pay tribute to the loss of 20-year-old Robert Norr.

“Bob loved Frostburg. He loved Western Maryland,” commented Nancy Norr, Bob’s mother.

Bob was a junior studying recreation and parks management with a concentration in therapeutic recreation and was also a member of the FSU swim team. He passed on January 10, 2012, in a kayaking accident in Blackwater River located in Tucker County, WV.

The Montgomery County native had been kayaking with five other people as they tried to guide through the waters of the Flat Liner Falls.  It was then that his body became pinned under a rock, unable to be helped in time.

In response to such a tragic event, friends and classmates wanted to do something unique and uplifting to remember Bob in a way that he would want to be remembered.  They decided to raise money through an event encouraging others to have fun and enjoy life and then use the proceeds collected to establish a scholarship fund in his memory. The end product became known as “I Swim for Bob” day and the event continues to improve with each year.

“Parks & Rec majors approach life a very different way,” said Dr. Blankenship. “We like to get together and have a good time. Bob would think this was the coolest thing ever!”

The event was not intended to be a yearly occurrence, but the students loved it so much the first year around that it became an annual event. Another good quality of the event is that it is organized and bettered every year through student input. All of Dr. Blankenship’s classes will evaluate the program and make suggestions and recommendations for the following year.  Dr. Blankenship’s leadership class, her senior seminar class, and her research methods class are required to work the event to gain professional experience and other skills valuable to the real world.

“As for the students, it helps them take ownership and develop a variety of skills such as leadership, marketing, and more,” said Dr. Blankenship.

To register for “I Swim for Bob” day, pre-registration is $5 a person or $20 for a group of 5, while walk-in registration is $10 a person or $40 for a group of 5. The overall goal for pre-registration this year was 150 participants compared to last years 100. In the end, the total number reached 153 pre-registered participants. The marketing for the event had been widened in the community and ambitions for next year include expanding marketing to both Garrett and Allegany counties.

Students climb the rock wall in FSU's P.E. Center. (Madie Wilson/TBL)
Students climb the rock wall in FSU’s P.E. Center. (Madie Wilson/TBL)

Last year, the event raised $7,000 for the Robert A. Norr Presidential Merit Scholarship leveling out to about $47,000 in total that has been raised since 2012. This year, “I Swim for Bob” day collected over $6,700 resulting in a $3,000 scholarship that will be awarded to a student and making the endowed scholarship fund surpass $50,000.

“It’s a cool way of doing something we like for a good cause,” said anonymous student and participant at the event.

Within the first two years, “I Swim for Bob” day only involved pool activities and games. Since then, the activities have diversified. This year’s event included pool activities such as water polo and water basketball shootouts, yard and gym games ranging from games named “chicken baseball” and “move the mountain” to the commonly known games such as dodgeball and kickball, rock climbing, and the most popular activity of laser tag.

“It’s exciting! We’re honoring his name by having fun,” said senior interpretive biology major and worker, Jen Tyrell.

As the fourth annual “I Swim for Bob” day rounded to an end, excitement for the fifth was already in the making. A grand time that only seems to get better, there’s no telling what next year’s event will hold and what accomplishments will be topped.

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