(Left to right) DJ Thorpe (Endless Pools), Peter Pagonis, Eric Perez (GTTR), Andrew Bank (GTTR), Mark Lutz (Endless Pools), Anastasia Pagonis, George Oliphant (GTTR), Robert Gomulka (GTTR) and Devin Cremer (GTTR)
Endless Pools teams up with an NBC television show to provide a swim spa for a blind USA Paralympic team member (video below)
In George to the Rescue, a television show that’s been running on NBC for 10 seasons, George Oliphant teams up with construction crews and decorators to create awe-inspiring home renovations for deserving families facing unique challenges.
In August 2019, the show teamed up with Endless Pools as part of a home renovation for a 15-year-old girl from Long Island, New York, named Anastasia (Tas) Pagonis. A medical condition caused Pagonis to begin losing her eyesight at age 9 and, in November 2018, she became completely blind.
Andrew Bank, producer at NBC Universal, says when the show took on the project, getting Endless Pools involved came out of discussing ways the show could help support Pagonis’ training in addition to making her home more safe and comfortable. Pagonis was already on the USA Paralympic team and has aspirations of being a Paralympic champion in Japan this year. But she was traveling an hour each day to practice, so an Endless Pool would allow her to do some training at home.
“The focus was how we could do something that’s going to push her toward her goals, not just that makes life easier,” Bank says. “We told [Endless Pools] how Anastasia was inspiring us, and we wanted to not only do something special for her, but also share a story that would inspire a lot of people who are watching it. Endless Pools was incredible because they are experts, and we’ve never done anything like this. So it really makes the project very special. The [swim spa] was something that we were dreaming big with and Endless Pools stepped up.”
Demolition date for the project was early September, and by early October the renovation was revealed. Endless Pools installers DJ Thorpe and Paul Fleming worked with the show and local officials to get the swim spa permitted. Once approved, the team installed a Performance Endless Pool in a corner of the newly renovated garage.
“It was truly a privilege to be a part of this life changing project for Tas,” Thorpe says, adding that there was a lot of coordination and cooperation necessary to pull it off between Endless Pools, the show and the contracting crew. “I’d like to praise and give thanks to all parties involved. [The contractor’s] team was very responsive and easy to work with from miles away. The [show’s] staff and crew went above and beyond, not only for Tas, but for us as well. When you have great people on great teams coming together for a greater cause, only good things can come from that equation.”
Thorpe was able to visit the home after the project was complete and meet the Pagonis family. “Watching Tas swim in her Endless Pool absolutely blew me away,” he says. “I can say that was one of my most proud moments in my career with Endless Pools.” “We both felt honored and proud to be a part of a project to benefit such a brave and worthy young lady,” Fleming says. “Her determination is an inspiration and a reminder to us that challenges are part of life and how we meet them is the measure of our character. Tas seems to have figured that out at a tender age by necessity. The thought that we could contribute to her training and enhance her and her family’s lives was and is profoundly rewarding. I look forward to seeing her on the podium at the Paralympics.”