- Category: Fundraisers
- Published on Wednesday, 06 June 2012 14:42
- Written by Jenifer Howard
Swim Across America is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary of “making waves in the fight against cancer.” While Swim Across America is a national organization, and hosts dozens of swims from Boston Harbor to under the Golden Gate Bridge, its roots are firmly anchored in Connecticut and along the Long Island Sound shore. Darien, Conn., resident Matt Vossler, and his lifelong friend and college roommate Jeff Keith founded the organization in 1987. And, Janel Jorgensen McArdle, president of Swim Across America, and 1988 Olympic silver medalist and Pan American gold medalist, grew up in Ridgefield, Conn., and spent her summers swimming in Long Island Sound.
The 2012 Greenwich-Stamford Swim will unite recreational swimmers, competitive swimmers, Master swimmers, Olympians, kayakers, boaters and hundreds of volunteers all committed to pursuing a cure for this devastating disease.
“Last year we had 225 swimmers, plus 120 land, kayak and boat volunteers participating in the Greenwich-Stamford Swim,” noted Janel Jorgensen McArdle. “This year, we hope to raise that number to close to 300 swimmers. This is such an inspiring event that every year, our swimmers come back and bring their families, friends, co-workers, or a whole team to swim.” Across the U.S., more than 4,000 swimmers, ranging in ages from four to 78, participate on an annual basis in the Swim Across America events.
Jorgensen also noted that it is impressive to see how the swimmers join together to form teams to help with fundraising efforts. Last year, some teams raised an amazing amount of money, with top fundraisers including “June’s Swim for a Cure,” headed by June Hussey of Tucson, Ariz., with ten members that raised $55,300! “June’s Swim for a Cure” also included team member and recreational swimmer Richard Burns of New York, who one year ago from the date of the 2011 Swim, was diagnosed with throat cancer and spent the year undergoing treatment. Burns spent several months practicing for the swim, and when he emerged out of the water, was greeted with cheers and hugs from fellow teammates.
Jim O’Brien of Wilton, Conn., headed up the number two fundraising team of “Kicking Cancer for Karen, Chris and Friends,” which had 26 members, including several who swam the 5-mile and 3-mile challenge courses, and raised an amazing $35,800! 2011 was the second year Jim O’Brien and his team swam in the Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford Swim. In 2010, Jim and his team swam for Jim’s wife Karen who was diagnosed with cancer. In 2011, Jim’s youngest brother Chris was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer. Jim’s two daughters, Kristine and Caroline, who swam for the Wilton Wahoos and swam competitively for ten years, also joined the team; Jim is a recreational swimmer.
The 36-member team “CHEMhOes,” made up of current and former swim and water polo team members from Greenwich High School, swam in honor of fellow teammate and GHS graduate Brooke Lorenz. They were the third highest fundraising team in 2011 bringing in a total of $31,900! Brooke swam in her first ever Swim Across America event in 2010 after graduating high school; however, her future took a different turn when just before she was scheduled to start college, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She has undergone successful treatment and is now healthy and happy to be swimming again for the third time in the Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America event. Brooke is incredibly thankful for events like Swim Across America that helps fund the kind of treatment she was able to receive.
“Many of our swimmers are either cancer survivors or have been touched by cancer in some way – either personally or by someone they know,” noted Matt Vossler, founder of Swim Across America. “Those that participate are truly inspirational. With every stroke each swimmer makes, it’s a chance to save a life through the promise of cancer research and treatment.”
Locally, the Greenwich-Stamford Swims have raised a total of $1 million for the Connecticut beneficiary, the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT). Nationally, Swim Across America has raised more than $40 million for cancer research, prevention and treatment.