GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – A local program, which lends free life jackets to visitors along the Colorado River, is struggling to stay afloat.
“When the kiosks are empty, they’re not doing any good,” said Brian Cohee, founder of the Save-A-Life Jacket Program.
He started the Save-A-Life Jacket Program eight years ago after a friend drowned in the river. It started with him leaving a box of life jackets for people to use at that location, then it turned into a box at every boat ramp.
“Then I started building kiosks because the boxes weren’t big enough, they were running out of jackets,” said Cohee.
Now, there’s a kiosk at every major boat ramp from Loma to Clifton.
“The whole genesis of the program was to give a life jacket to anybody, for a day use,” said Cohee.
As Cohee shared on the program’s Facebook page, in the last 3 weeks, he’s lost about 90 life jackets.
“To lose 90 at one time, it just depletes my inventory to the point where I would be unable to maintain the program,” said Cohee.
The program is valuable to the community, especially for families.
“I have five kids and so it’s very convenient,” said Stephen Fox, a local river goer. Fox and his family have already visited the river a couple of times this summer.
“One thing that’s nice about coming down here is knowing that there are lifejackets available for my kids,” said Fox.
In order for the program to continue, it needs community support.
“These lifejackets get used day-in and day-out every day by hundreds, if not thousands of people,” said Fox, “You know, don’t be stingy, put them back, let other people use them so that they can enjoy it.”
Although Cohee is committed to the program, he knows he can’t be there everyday so, he’s open to ideas.
“Maybe get a fresh set of eyes on my program, I’m just a one-man band trying to run this program while working full-time,” said Cohee.
He’s asking that everyone pitch-in to help keep the program afloat.
“Please borrow the lifejacket, please, that’s what it’s here for, but if you can, return it,” said Cohee.
Since posting about this major recent loss in inventory on Facebook, Cohee has received hundreds of donations and thousands of messages.
He’s so appreciative to have such strong community support.
If you’re interested in donating or helping Brian out in any way, you can visit the Save-A-Life Jacket Facebook page.