Hundreds of runners raise money to remember young swimmer

Hundreds of runners honored a young swimmer on Saturday, who died last June.

13-year-old Elise Cerami's mom tells FOX 4, swimming was her daughter’s passion in life, so they decided to give away thousands of dollars in swimming scholarships so others could continue her dream.  Hundreds attended Saturday's 5K to raise money for those scholarships.

“She was born to swim. She always said she was a mermaid and that she was called to the water,” said Elise’s friend, Lindsay Carpenter.

A swimmer since she was 7-years-old, Elise’s friends say she was always trying to one-up the competition.

“Just seeing her put the effort she had into it, it just inspires you to do the same and be as good as you can be,” said her friend, Kate Walker.

More than a competitive swimmer, those who knew Elise say she was an easy friend to may.

“Her laugh and her eyes, they were beautiful. And her laugh just lit up the entire room,” said Rachel Boeck.

Elise passed away last June after accidentally drowning during swim practice. Several people tried to help, including a coach who had a heart attack while trying to save her, but it wasn’t enough.

Elise’s mother, Lori Cerami says they still don’t know what exactly happened that day, “You're not drown-proof. Things can happen. My daughter was healthy; there was nothing wrong with her. Things can happen and we need to be attentive to the water.”

More than 900 runners came out Saturday to raise money and spread the message of water safety for the Swim 4 Elise Foundation, started by her family.

“I thought it was a great way to carry something she loved forward through people who also loved the water,” said Cerami, “My daughter was really great about bringing out the best in others. She was really good too about bringing people together for a common goal. So I think that represents today.”

Today’s event raised about $60,000 for the Swim 4 Elise Foundation.

Elise’s coach who suffered a heart attack has made a full recovery.