Hey there, my name is Ryan Kotzen and I had the honour and privilege of being married to the late and great, Rikki Kotzen.
As a child, Rix suffered a near drowning experience and had to be resuscitated, and from that moment she chose to see the lesson in the trauma, and it became her calling and purpose in life to save the lives of as many babies, children and adults, from accidental drownings as she could.
Years later, this dream became a reality and together, we built our business, Infant Aquatics Academy. Sadly we didn't get the opportunity to have children of our own, but Rix and I would often joke that that the school was our baby, and I need your help now to make sure her dream and legacy continues.
Over the past 4 years, Rix was able to put well over 1200 people (mostly infants but all the way up to and including adults) through the Infant Aquatics methodology, ensuring water-safety – in weeks not years!
Rix's health was often a problem, she lost over 100kg (220 lb) before I met her and had to undergo a full belt lipectomy surgery for the loose skin. She had the auto-immune disorder, Lupus and had to be hospitalised on numerous occasions and when she wasn't in hospital this often caused her massive pain (although you would never know it, she rarely complained). Two years ago was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she was able to beat at the cost of having a double mastectomy. A week before we were married she had her gall bladder removed but she didn't let this stop her from dancing the night away on our special occasion. She never let any of this, not even the failed breast reconstruction surgery, get her down or keep her away from her passion of saving lives. She was at her happiest spending 12 hours a day at the school. It really was her calling.
As with many businesses, the school had to close down for six months during the South African COVID-19 lockdown, which has been very tough financially but even more for keeping Rix out of the water and doing what she loved. Towards the early part of the lockdown Rix was admitted to the hospital after a lupus flare up, resulting in a kidney infection and pneumonia in addition to the debilitating pain . Due to hospital regulations she wasn't allowed any visitors (not event me, her husband) which was incredibly taxing during this high stress time. Rix had been doing much better and was ecstatic to be reopening of the school on the 29th of September but, tragically, she passed away in her sleep during the early hours of the morning on the 17th of September from a coronary event.
Our wedding cake was five tiers, not as a show of opulence but so that once she and I had cut it in celebration, we could donate it to a children's home and spreading some of our joy.
We were blessed enough to have celebrated our 1-year wedding anniversary a week and a half prior to her passing. She was so humble and kind:
In order to keep Rix's legacy and dream alive – we need to send our two coaches, Rebecca and Cairn to the Infant Aquatics headquarters in Boulder, Colorado in May 2021 for an additional 5-week training course in working with small babies (six months and up) as this was Rix's passion and specialty. In addition, in her honour, I would like to set up a scholarship to help families who can't afford the programme to be put through the training (something Rix was already doing on her own spare time) the costs of which are as follows:
* Training fee: $22 000.00
* Accommodation: $3 000.00
* Car rental: $1 500.00
* Food: $2 500.00
* Flights: $2 000.00
* Scholarship: $9100 (Allows us to put 20+ children through the program)
* Total: $40 100.00
Should we exceed our target this would allow us to make the scholarship even larger and enable us to help more families out.
We would like to secure the funding before the end of January 2021 in order to secure the booking slot and all the sundry expenses before they increase. As Go Fund Me is not available directly in South Africa Kyla Blum, who was so influential in Rikki's dream and was the instructor who taught Rix the Infant Aquatics methodology, will be assisting us.
Rix, was an amazing person with a beautiful soul, always helping others and putting them first. Whether it was baking and decorating cakes for a birthday party/wedding, or organizing an entire wedding itself – Rix was the person to call (assuming she hadn't already volunteered)!
Thank you so much for the love and support you have all shown us over this difficult time.
Thank you for each and every share of this campaign on social media, and for every dollar donated, together we will keep Rikki's legacy going and save lives!
For the price of your daily cappuccino you can help save people's lives!
We know Rikki’s ship is sailing high above us, and as our Captain, she salutes all of you, her crew, for keeping the school afloat!
Weathering the storm: After much hardship, achieving our shared dream of getting married
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