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I used to think that success meant a degree, living on your own, having a car, and your bills paid. My heart feels successful when I am teaching lifeguards how to save a human, when I’m teaching kids how to swim, or when I’m having dinner with the love of my life. That’s success to me.
Chelo Lundquist-Kragg is an Aquatics Director, an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, and a Lifeguard Trainer. We got to talking about our mutual love of swimming one day at the Longfellow Club in Natick, Massachusetts where she runs the swimming program. As a lifeguard trainer, Chelo turns teenagers into lifesavers with her unique “tree of lifeguarding” curriculum. When I mentioned that I host this podcast and radio series featuring women’s stories, she said: “I’ve got a story about my childhood, but I don’t really talk about it much.” That statement got my attention and just the other day, we sat down to record this very personal, very painful story which thankfully, has a happy ending. Born and raised in Lake County, California, Chelo’s birth mother was a drug dealer who gave birth to her brother in prison. Her father was a raging alcoholic and a child abuser. In this interview, Chelo recalls the first 6 years of her life in flashes, sharing the fact that her father beat her brother and sexually abused her repeatedly. It was a babysitter who stepped forward to report this abuse and both children were removed from the home by ambulance. Chelo and her brother ended up being adopted by a wonderful couple whose unconditional love healed their broken hearts. For a firsthand look inside the mind of a girl who rose like a phoenix to become a strong, kind, and capable young woman who is “right where she wants to be” just hit that download button. #adoption #americanredcross #childabuse #sexualabuse