Robert Ritchie and Tiffany Smith never imagined that they would have to bury a child.
But on June 23, 2012, their world came crashing down after their 7-year-old son, Nolan, and Tiffany's mother, Wanda Wentz, drowned after going swimming in the Lehigh River in Lehighton.
Now, two years later, the two parents, their family and friends are working to educate parents and make children safer by distributing life vests through the Nolan Ritchie Foundation.
On Saturday, during the Community Safety Day at Mauch Chunk Lake Park, the foundation presented the Lehighton and Franklin Township Fire Companies with $500 donations to help support the groups who tried to save their son and his grandmother.
The foundation also had a display set up on the beach area of the lake and gave away 27 life vests and five lake passes to attendees.
Ritchie said that the foundation began after the community banded together following Nolan's death and gave money to help cover the cost of his funeral.
After the funeral, the family had more than $6,000 remaining so they decided to give back to the community and start the foundation as a way to educate people about the importance of being safe around water.
"I couldn't imagine seeing another parent go through what we went through," Ritchie said, adding that the foundation plans to buy floating ropes, which are used during water rescues, to give to area police departments.
He said that his daughter, who was also in the river that day in June, is doing much better now.
He hopes to eventually organize swimming lessons and would like to be able to send life vests to people all over the country because they can get expensive.
He urged parents to make sure their child is wearing a life jacket when they are near water, even if they are fishing, because you never know what can happen.
Donations are still being accepted.
Monetary donations can be sent to the Grace Community Church of Lansford, 15 W. Ridge St., Lansford.