On June 27, 2020, 16-year-old Jack Weeks was enjoying a day with family at Lewes Beach at the tip of Cedar Street. At 2:42 p.m., he ran into the water, dove and broke his neck on the shallow bottom. Everyday heroes took action and got Jack out of the water, resuscitated him and prepared him for transport to Beebe Healthcare and a flight up to Nemours Children's Hospital in Wilmington.
Within hours it became apparent that he was paralyzed from the chest down with limited use of his arms and hands. During the year-and-a-half since then, he has worked very hard alongside a team of extraordinarily dedicated professionals to gain more mobility.
To raise funds for medical treatments and supports on his continued path to recovery, his family and friends will host a gathering from 4 to 6 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 7, at the Lewes Yacht Club.
Jack’s father, Kip Weeks, will share a five-minute video presentation on the incident and the power of Jack’s spirit. The family also wants to spread awareness of the hidden dangers along Lewes Beach. This is important, the family says, because the bay is deceptively treacherous due to its typically calm surface. Families with children can be lulled into a false sense of security because they’re focused on the reduced likelihood of drowning without realizing how easy it is to get injured when diving off mats or off the beach into shallow water.
Those dangers are apt to increase due to work on the breakwaters, eroding shorelines and increasingly intense storms due to climate change, along with more unpredictable water depth tied to the tides.
For these reasons and more, warning signs along Lewes Beach are a crucial first step. The family is also encouraging a longer-term educational effort to ensure more people understand that diving into water when you can’t see the bottom is as dangerous as diving into a shallow swimming pool. Local students need to learn about this in Cape Henlopen’s public and private schools. Visitors checking in to summertime rentals need to be warned so they can enjoy the beach safely. And public officials need to recognize their responsibility to warn the public right now, and in the years to come.
In the meantime, Jack’s family looks forward to celebrating his bravery and sharing the story about his struggles, his successes, and the challenges ahead for his future. Tax-deductible tickets are $125 apiece and proceeds will go to a nonprofit organization that manages the payments of all medical and equipment needs not covered by health insurance.
The evening will include a selection of complimentary beer and wine from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Sposato Family Vineyards paired with appetizers. A cash bar will be available for mixed cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. There will also be many raffle and auction prizes, including gift certificates to Bling, Aquamarine and other local businesses, along with a chance to bid on a “glamping” weekend at Tops’l Farm in Maine and a day on the set of the hit Netflix show, The Outer Banks.
To purchase tickets, go to https://events.helphopelive.org/event/5463/signup. Tickets can also be purchased by check at the door.