Colt Catalina Foundation's 14th Anniversary Highlights Drowning Prevention

ColtWhen Colt Catalina died on March 21, 2010, Madison Marchegiano was 12. Five years later, she founded an organization in the toddler’s name to make sure another family doesn’t suffer the loss of a child drowning.

In nine years, the Colt Catalina Foundation has raised more than $50,000 for scholarships. The funds provide scholarships for swimming lessons that teach children to survive a fall into the water and gain the basic skills needed to grow as a swimmer.


Colt Walker Catalina was born on January 18, 2008, to the parents of John and Natalie, and the little brother of Mackenzie and Presley. He was a vibrant toddler and was loved by everyone who knew him.

"Many people who knew Colt loved his heavenly blue eyes, winning smile and the sound of his infectious laugh," the Foundation shares. "Colt brought so much joy to this world and touched so many people's lives. He was such a sweet, fun, loving little boy.

"Colt's favorite thing was baseball. More than anything else, he loved to hit the baseball. Even before he was walking or standing up, he would sit down and hit the baseball with a bat, crawl to wherever the ball landed, and do it all over again. Once he was standing up, he started hitting the baseball off a tee. And once he was walking, he would run in a circle as if he was running the bases."

On Sunday, March 21, 2010, John and Natalie's lives were shattered into a million pieces. Colt was in the care of a relative when he slipped away unnoticed and was later found in the backyard pool, which did not have a fence.John and Natalie were immediately notified of the accident. The PHI Air Medical crew and paramedics rushed him to Dell Children's Hospital, but doctors were unable to revive him.

Colt had just turned two years old when his life was cut short by an accident that was 100% preventable. "Though his time with us on Earth was short, Colt brought many smiles and much joy, and his energy and love of life will always be remembered," says the Foundation. "If things could have gone differently that day, Colt would still be here doing the things he loved and enjoyed. Colt was loved by everyone and will forever remain in his family's hearts."


According to the Colt Catalina Foundation — located in Texas — in 2023, 53 children were treated for drowning at Dell Children’s Hospitals (Austin, Texas). Nearly 40% of drownings treated in the emergency room required hospitalization or transfer for further care. Other unintentional injuries are referred to at a rate of 10%.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 11 children die every day in the United States as a result of drowning. That equates to nearly 900 children annually. In addition, drowning is the leading cause of death in children aged one to four and the second-leading cause of death for children five to 14. 


Now, as the Colt Catalina Foundation enters its 14th year, it wants to highlight drowning prevention strategies. There are several recommendations for preventing drowning: The American Academy of Pediatrics acknowledges the benefits of swimming lessons for children as young as age one and also recommends pool fencing. The CDC echoes the fence recommendation, saying a four-sided isolation fence that separates the pool area from the house and yard can reduce drownings. As the weather warms and activities move towards cooling waters, the need for drowning prevention increases.

The Colt Catalina Foundation is seeking increased funding to partner with organizations like Infant Aquatics, which provides survival lessons for infants and young children, and the Life Saver Pool Fence company which donates a fence to families who have suffered a fatal or nonfatal drowning. 

For information about how to donate and more information on the Colt Catalina Foundation, contact Madison Marchegiano via her email at [email protected] or by calling (512) 658-3398.

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