The year 2020 has been one that many people will choose to forget, while others will certainly have their fair share of stories to tell for the rest of their lives. Things are being canceled left and right, or postponed or rescheduled for a later date because of the global pandemic.

One of the things that was canceled was the 2020 Delmarva Swim Association summer swim season. More than 1,700 local youth were to participate in the DSA swim season, but they were not able to do that this year.

Each year, DSA hands out scholarships for local graduating seniors, thanks to the funds raised at the end-of-season championship meet. With the season canceled, the DSA Executive Board knew they wouldn’t have the revenue to be able to give out as many scholarships, or as much money as they had over the past few years.

With that being the case, the man known by many as the “Dewey Elvis,” brainstormed an idea to potentially help with that issue. Frank Raines, a DSA Executive Board member and entertainer well known from the Delaware beaches to Ocean City, Md. — especially at the Starboard in Dewey Beach, was approached by the people of I’m Freakin’ Awesome Virtual Racing (IFAVR) to see if he’d be interested in hosting a fundraiser for the cause.

Asked if he might want to do such an event, Raines immediately thought of how DSA’s season and championship meet were canceled. The organization knew it wouldn’t have all of the scholarship money they usually had, but Raines believed that the seniors who would normally be swimming this summer, should still have hopes of being awarded a scholarship. They would definitely still have college bills to pay in the fall.

“Many of these seniors have already had their proms canceled, their spring sports seasons, and their graduation,” said Raines, who has helped raise more than $30,000 for out-of-work restaurant employees during the pandemic, using different virtual events, including the Doin’ It for Dewey Virtual 5K.

“We want to still be able to give them an opportunity to win these scholarships that some of these kids have been swimming with us for many years,” he said.

Last year, DSA gave out 15 scholarships of $1,000 dollars each, to senior swimmers from their league who had been swimming for at least the past four years. This year, seniors who would have swam for the teams the previous three years, can submit their applications through Sunday, July 19, along with two letters of recommendation (one from their school and one from a swimming coach), and an essay on how swimming has helped them and will be a part of their lives.

IFAVR took notice of how donations seemed to spike during the times Raines performed during his “Frank’s Friday Live at Five” concerts on Facebook Live, which were promoting the Dewey Virtual Race. The way he was able to promote various causes during his weekly Facebook shows made IFAVR confident that he could raise money for the DSA scholarship cause, if given the opportunity.

In working with IFAVR, they came up with Elvis’ DSA Scholarship Challenge. The challenge is a 5K run (or walk), and/or a 1K swim, and/or a 10K bike ride. Participants can do one, two or all three of the events, virtually. The best part is that they can do them whenever and wherever they want, because it is based on the honor system. Participants simply pay the entry fee, or they can get sponsors to help raise money for the DSA scholarship fund.

“Neither DSA or I make a penny off of the challenge,” Raines said. “Every cent raised goes directly to the scholarship fund. I am just the individual behind it.”

Interested individuals can register by going to the DSA website at www.delmarvaswim.org, and clicking on the link for “ELVIS 5K” right on the main home page. Each event costs $25 to register individually to do just one event. Registering for a biathlon costs $35, and for those who want to go for the trifecta and do the triathlon, it costs $40. Registration ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 26, which is also the last day to sign up to participate in the virtual challenge.

Participants will enter their times on the website and update them every time they get better. The age groups are by the same age groups as the young swimmers compete in each summer, as well as an 18-or-older category for those adults that have now “aged out” of youth swimming. It is hoped that people will affiliate their entry with any of the DSA teams, as there will be awards for the teams that raise that most money. Raines even added a league/team from in the D.C. area, where he lived and was previously involved, as he hopes to have entries from there.

Raines said he is hopeful that they can raise enough money to offer more than just a few small token scholarships with the little money left over from previous years. DSA senior swimmers will, he hopes, have the same opportunities for scholarships as those who swam in previous years, if this fundraiser is successful.

With so many watching “Frank’s Friday Live at Five!” his large database of friends and fans, and his known celebrity in the region, Raines hopes to raise several thousand dollars via entry fees and donations. Schell Brothers has agreed to be the gold sponsor and underwrite all of the costs for the website (which organizes the virtual race online) via a sizable first donation. All unused money from Schell Brothers will go directly to the scholarship fund as well. The Starboard, Bethany Blues, Nalu restaurant and Condor Communications have also joined in sponsoring the event.

“Any of these kids, who have given part of their youth to their local teams and this league, deserve the chance to earn these special scholarships,” Raines concluded. “I just want to be sure there is enough money there to fund them. I need people to want to get involved.”

To make a donation directly to the cause, check out the website at elvisdsa.imfreakinawesome.com.

Staff Reporter

Jason has been in journalism for 20 years. He moved to Coastal Delaware in August 2017 with his wife, Jessica, and their daughters, Kylie, 17, and Grace, 12. He has a passion for high-school sports and especially values the relationships that builds.