For most of her life, Betty Rhodes Kindley has enjoyed one of life’s greatest gifts, that of a friend. Only for Betty it was times 6. Seven girls, the best of friends since childhood, have celebrated birthdays, weddings, divorces, children, and vacations complete with humorous newsletters to cap the events.
On a Sunday in 2006 Betty’s life was changed forever. The girls had gathered at Sullivan’s Island, SC for a fun day of hunting sea shells when tragedy swept Betty and Judy, one of the 7, out to sea in what’s called a “rip current”.
In a moment, Betty found herself more than 200 yds off shore, in water well over her head, rough waves, no land in sight, and fighting to keep Judy, who couldn’t swim, above the water. “The waves kept crashing on us and breaking us apart. I would swim down and grab Judy and bring her back up,” she said. Betty held on to her friend and hope that help would come.
Many attempts had been made from shore to get out to Betty and Judy, but only 2 women had managed to punch through the rough waves. An off duty lifeguard named Kenzie and a breast cancer survivor named Kary.
Betty had been treading water for more than 30 minutes. She had gone from talking to Judy and trying to keep her calm to silence and trying to deal with the reality that Judy had taken in too much water and was in trouble. Betty refused to let go. “I knew she was gone, but I kept thinking if someone would come soon maybe they could resuscitate her.”
Her rescuers helped her accept that she would have to leave Judy’s body behind and swim in without her. Kenzie told her, “if we’re gonna make it, you’ll have to leave her here.” Betty had done all she could, so, flanked on both sides by women who had risked their lives believing they could make a difference, Betty swam back to shore.
Can you imagine the emotional trauma?
After being swept out by tragedy, kept afloat by hope, and carried in by faith, Betty has come to believe that everything happens for a reason and is part of God’s plan even when we don’t understand it, that life is too short to squander, and everybody should LEARN TO SWIM!
The commitment of friends and the courage of strangers; these are the makings of warrior princesses.