Cornell undergraduates Chris Hales (Computer Science) and twin brother, Matt Hales (Electrical and Computer Engineering), began a company—Goggles for Guppies—when they were twelve-year-olds and avid swimmers. In an article for USA Swimming—“Goggles for Guppies Continues to Change the World,” featured in USA Swimming (December 21, 2018), Mike Watkins reports that Chris and Matt were inspired to supply swim equipment and education to others after a 2011 competition in Mexico.
Their father, Michael Hales, who has been assisting his entrepreneurial, visionary sons in their mission told Watkins that “the most obvious impact they see (and often read about through dozens of thank-you emails and letters) is knowing that children who otherwise would not learn to swim because their families simply cannot afford proper swim equipment have become water-safe.”
Goggles for Guppies (GFG) has provided swim equipment (goggles, of course, but also swim suits) to humanitarian programs in Haiti, Guatemala, and Benin, among other places. Such an endeavor truly is humanitarian, as Michael reports: “We’ve been told of one little girl who had just learned to swim (because of help she received from GFG) saved the life of a toddler who had fallen into a pool, and about a South Carolina teenager who started a local learn-to-swim program after losing a high school friend to drowning.”
Such important, life-changing work is being recognized by prominent organizations and figures: “Goggles for Guppies was honored at the 2015 Golden Goggle Awards with the USA Swimming Foundation Make A Splash Hero Award, and Matt and Chris were each awarded the Disney/ABC Broadcasting “Cool Kids” award for exemplary community service, the 2016 George H. W. Bush Points of Light Award, and the 2017 Presidential Volunteer Service Lifetime Achievement Award signed by President Barack Obama.”
As Chris and Matt tell it: “It’s their shared dream to use the knowledge they are learning in college to use computer technology to make the world a better place for all of its people.” Already, they have made significant progress in realizing their vision.