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Phoenix area swim teacher overcomes tragedy, continues helping special needs kids

Julie Cordeiro helps kids with special needs in the pool so Amy Scott decided to Pay It Forward. (Source: CBS 5) Julie Cordeiro helps kids with special needs in the pool so Amy Scott decided to Pay It Forward. (Source: CBS 5)
CBS 5 followed along when Scott surprised Cordeiro during one of her swim lessons and gave her $500. (Source: CBS 5) CBS 5 followed along when Scott surprised Cordeiro during one of her swim lessons and gave her $500. (Source: CBS 5)
A couple years ago, Cordeiro and her fiance, Ryan Shaefer, created JR's Swim School. Shaefer died in a car crash. (Source: CBS 5) A couple years ago, Cordeiro and her fiance, Ryan Shaefer, created JR's Swim School. Shaefer died in a car crash. (Source: CBS 5)
Cordeiro is determined to keep the swim school going. (Source: CBS 5) Cordeiro is determined to keep the swim school going. (Source: CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Swim instructor Julie Cordeiro has a lot of patience in the pool and it shows.

Many of the kids Cordeiro teaches have special needs.

"Sometimes it takes weeks or months, but when they finally go underwater and realize they're OK, they give me that look like, 'Did I just do that?'" said Cordeiro. "I'm like, 'Yeah you did,' and from there, we build on it. It's really cool."

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A couple years ago, Cordeiro and her fiance, Ryan Shaefer, created JR's Swim School.

But instead of just offering private lessons, they expanded their program to include kids with autism and other disabilities.

They also set up scholarships for low-income families.

"Stuff like water safety gets neglected," said Cordeiro. "Not because they want to, but because they don't have funds available for it."

The heartwarming swim story took a tragic turn recently when Schaefer was killed in a car accident this past May.

Cordeiro is determined to keep the swim school going.

"He had such a passion for it," said Cordeiro. "I know if he were here, he would be saying keep it going, please keep it going, so I do."

Amy Scott has seen the pain Cordeiro has been through, yet through it all, keeps helping kids in need.

Scott reached out to CBS 5 to Pay It Forward to the kind swim teacher.

"I think it takes a very special person to work with kids like that and be able to teach them a skill like swimming," said Scott. "I thought of Pay It Forward to help Julie continue what they have been offering."

CBS 5 followed along when Scott surprised Cordeiro during one of her swim lessons and gave her $500.

"I reached out to Channel 5 and nominated you for all the great things you do for kids and in the community," said Scott. "I really appreciate all you do for kids and working with them. We reached out to Pay It Forward from Channel 5 and they're giving you $500 for JR's Swim School."

"I feel like he's watching and he's proud of me and proud of the kids," said Cordeiro.

For more information on swim lessons visit https://jrswimschool.com/.

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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