The Holidays Come Early With #GivingTuesday and Swim Across America

What better way to make someone feel special this holiday season than making a difference in the fight against cancer in their name and providing them with a special treat! Swim Across America is making it easy for you to do so this Giving Tuesday!

Here’s how it works:

1. MAKE A DONATION

Donate $100 or more by #GivingTuesday (deadline of December 1st). Select a friend or family member to honor with your gift.

2. We Send a HOLIDAY GIFT

Your friend receives a holiday gift filled with chocolates and a card letting them know of your thoughtful donation.

3. YOUR IMPACT

Your donation helps Swim Across America fund cancer research. Your friend will appreciate the goodwill of your gesture.

LIMITED SUPPLY  – ORDER NOW FOR HOLIDAYS!

Looking for a Role Model? Meet 17-Year Old Alyssa Corb

March 9th is a special day for Alyssa Corb. It’s the date of birth of her brother Michael. Tragically, Michael didn’t make it to his first birthday as he died from mixed lineage leukemia when he was a 9-months old. For the past 10-years, Alyssa has been registering for Swim Across America—Baltimore on March 9th. In her words, it’s the “perfect way to honor my brother.”

Brother JD, sister Sarah, mom Jenn and Alyssa. The family participates as Team Racing Against Cancer swimming each year in Swim Across America-Baltimore at High Tide Farm.

Alyssa entered her first Swim Across America–Baltimore charity swim when she was 8-years old swimming a mile with her mom Jennifer. She hasn’t missed a year since celebrating a decade of raising more than $140,000 for Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.

Brother Michael and Alyssa.

Many of Alyssa’s friends from her club soccer and club swimming teams have been so inspired, that they have joined her in giving back. And now Alyssa participates in Swim Across America—Baltimore with her 13-year old brother JD and 10-year old sister Sarah. On her personal page, Alyssa shares stories and why she is so passionate about the cause.

Alyssa Corb at Swim Across America-Baltimore

Next summer, Alyssa graduates from Mt. Hebron High School in Maryland. While she hasn’t yet selected a college, she hopes to play soccer in college. As for what she might want to major, Alyssa says “I want to be a high school math teacher.”

“She will change the world” is an expression we use when we see someone with so much potential. It’s not an understatement to declare that Alyssa Corb has already made the world better and will continue to do so.

Alyssa swims to honor loved ones.

2020 Swim Across America Highlights: Douglas Whitlock Bicycles from Chicago to St. Louis

This year, when Swim Across America pivoted from open water swims to virtual challenges, people have been finding all kinds of fun and creative ways to support Swim Across America and cancer research in their community. We’re highlighting some of the best ‘Making Waves to Fight Cancer’ stories with Swim Across America in 2020!

Douglas Whitlock, Swim Across America – St. Louis participant and partner at Sandberg Phoenix, one of SAA-St. Louis’s official sponsors, took his SAA -Coast to Coast Challenge to whole new level by bicycling from Grant Park in Chicago all the way to The Gateway Arch in St. Louis – a bike ride that is over 300 miles! Not only did he complete the journey, he and his team raised over $13,000 for groundbreaking cancer research and clinical trials at Siteman Cancer Center along the way! Congratulations to Doug for finishing such a challenging journey and for inspiring us all.

Dynamic Father-Daughter Duo Swims Lake Tahoe for Cancer Research

This year, when Swim Across America pivoted from open water swims to virtual challenges, people have been finding all kinds of fun and creative ways to support Swim Across America and cancer research in their community. We’re highlighting some of the best ‘Making Waves to Fight Cancer’ stories with Swim Across America in 2020!

13-year old Swim Across America – San Francisco Junior Advisory Board member and Team Susan Survives participant Maya Merhige and her father, Chris Merhige set their sights on a big goal for their participation in the San Francisco #SAACoasttoCoast Challenge in order to raise funds for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals! For their personal challenge this year, the dynamic father-daughter duo committed to swimming the true width of Lake Tahoe. For those of you that don’t know – that’s a 12-MILE swim!

True Width of Lake Tahoe 12-Mile Swim

The pair has raised over $5,700 to support cancer research and clinical trials at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Oakland and San Francisco! We got the chance to catch up with them afterwards and ask them all about their Lake Tahoe swim experience – you can read about it and see some photos below!

What brought you to get involved with Swim Across America? (Maya) I have been swimming with one of the director’s of SAA-SF, Susan Helmrich, for about 6 years, and she introduced me to Swim Across America. Swim Across America is actually what led me to start open-water swimming in the San Francisco Bay. In 2017 and 2018, I did the short course swim with my mom and dad, and then in 2019 we all did the long course swim without wetsuits. Over these past three years, I have reached Wavemaker status, having raised over $10K in total.  Last year, I became part of the SAA-SF Junior Advisory Board. I know a lot of people that have been affected by cancer, and I have always been interested in both swimming and medicine so I was super interested in Swim Across America from the start. 

(Chris) I met Susan Helmrich in 2014 and first did SAA in 2016.  From the first day I swam with Susan she kicked my butt in the pool.  I learned about her experience with cancer and involvement with SAA a few months after meeting her and I was blown away.  Like almost everyone, I have known people who have been affected by cancer and I was amazed by Susan’s amazing spirit and resilience, even after beating cancer three times.  She invited me to join Team Susan Survives and since then the San Francisco Bay SAA has been a highlight every year.  While the swim itself is great, I find it so powerful to hear all the incredible stories from cancer survivors and folks affected by cancer in some form.  I am glad I can do something personally to contribute to the fight against cancer.

Why did you choose the Lake Tahoe swim as your personal challenge?
(Maya) My Dad and I had been talking about us both attempting a Tahoe True Width since last year.  We have spent a lot of time in Tahoe in the winters and summers, and it holds a special place in my heart.  It has always been this magical place for me.  We began training in the San Francisco Bay in March in preparation for our August swim.  When Covid hit and the Swim Across America challenge became virtual, we knew we needed to make our Tahoe swim the SAA challenge.  

What was your experience like participating in and completing that swim? (Maya) It was really amazing!  It was the most beautiful swim, starting with a 4am start with a full moon and beautiful stars above me.  Sunrise was glorious – and swimming in the clear water under the beautiful blue sky and bold clouds was incredible.  The best part was that I was expecting it to take me over 8 hours to complete the course, but I did it in 6 hours and 21 minutes!  There were hard moments where I felt I had to dig deep, but I just kept telling myself that they were nothing compared to the struggle cancer patients face.  I love the lake so much that I was back swimming and paddle boarding in it that afternoon.  

(Chris) I went two days after Maya.  At first I thought it would advantage me to go a couple days later, and in some ways it did.  I benefited by getting a feel for the feedings, the conditions, etc.  I also got to see how supported Maya was by her online swim family during the swim and how excited she was when she completed the swim.   It didn’t advantage me so much because with the swim now behind Maya, I had two extra days to have the jitters! Watching Maya swim for that long made me wonder what I had gotten myself into!   Could I complete this thing? So, when I was toes in at 4am, I was nervous but also excited.  It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life.  The first thing I said when I got back to the boat to Maya was, “How did you make it look so easy?”  She crushed my time, but I was still happy.  I’m really grateful for having had the opportunity to do this with Maya.

If you feel inspired to donate to Maya or Chris, you may do so through their personal pages: Maya Merhige & Chris Merhige.

Maya and Chris want to thank Maya’s little sister, Lucy for her support during their training and the swims.  “She got dragged to many many training swims and had to listen to our swim talk for six months straight.

Photos from the Lake Tahoe Swim

2020 Swim Across America Highlights: Tyler Roethke and Grant Wentworth Swim the Vineyard Sound and Raise over $100,000

In 2020, Swim Across America transitioned from open water swims to fun and exciting virtual challenges in each city. We’re highlighting some of the best ‘Making Waves to Fight Cancer’ stories with Swim Across America this year!

On August 8th, 2020, Swim Across America Nantucket participants Tyler Roethke and Grant Wentworth took their personal challenge to a whole new level by swimming a 10K crossing of the Vineyard Sound! These two accomplished this challenging swim in just under 2 hours and together have raised over $100,000 to support Nantucket Cottage Hospital and Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket – simply AMAZING! Way to go Grant and Tyler! Check out these awesome shots captured by photographer Tom Olcott! If you’d like to support these two outstanding SAA swimmers you can do so by going to swimacrossamerica.org/goto/GrantWentworth & swimacrossamerica.org/goto/TylerRoethke.

Board Member Jack Salerno’s Personal Challenge: 21 Triathlons To Celebrate 21 SAA Events

Swim Across America’s commitment this year is to continue providing hope to the individuals and families affected by cancer through support, inspiration, and leadership. If you are inspired by these personal challenge stories, please register or donate at swimacrossamerica.org.

Swim Across America Board Member Jack Salerno created a personal challenge to celebrate each of the 21 Swim Across America cities. Jack has been involved with Swim Across America since the inaugural Run Across America in 1984 and a board member for nearly 20 years.

Jack will be completing 21 triathlons to celebrate each of our postponed 2020 SAA open water events this year.  His goal is to raise $21K ($1K for each).  You can support Jack at his personal fundraising page.

PHOTOS OF JACK’S 21 TRIATHLONS (check back for updates)

A Story of Purpose, Grit, and Humanity

I have a story. It’s a story of purpose, grit, and humanity. It’s the kind of story that becomes a movie.

In 1984, a team of childhood friends lead by cancer survivor Jeff Keith ran across the United States. The run took nine months. The team faced challenge after challenge. It tested their human spirit. Incredibly (in a time of no internet or e-mail) they raised $1M for cancer research.

Matt Vossler was part of the run. In 1987, Matt was inspired to do more for the cancer community. So he created a charity swim across Long Island Sound. The beginning of a movement was born. A movement that would pioneer new and lifesaving options for cancer patients. Swim Across America’s movement has grown to charity swims in more than 20 communities. But Swim Across America’s ability to make an impact for cancer research and support programs is because of your generosity.

Donations from you have directly lead to breakthroughs to fighting cancer. Cancer is now being treated with immunotherapy, personalized medicine and gene therapy. Treatments that we’ve been funding with your donations. Treatments in 1987 that weren’t available. Doctors are now telling families, “there is hope.” And you are part of the story.

Your donations have given families the most precious gift. The gift of time. The gift of more time to celebrate birthdays, to attend weddings, and pass on family values.

Any other year, we’d be planning to see you at a charity swim. Circumstances required we come up with a new program for 2020. We hope you will join our Swim Across America Challenge. Publish your SAA Challenge on social and tag @SAASwim. We’re watching with anticipation and want to share your story.

We hope you will invite others to participate. Anyone can do any activity for their Swim Across America Challenge. See our communities and join the one that best fits your interest.

Our Swim Across America founders believe humanity shines when we help others. And helping others is what you do by supporting Swim Across America.

We humbly say thank you.

Rob Butcher
Swim Across America | CEO

Swim Across America Awards $120,000 in Cancer Grants

Swim Across America has partnered with the American Society of Clinical Oncology and American Association for Cancer Research to award two $60,000 grants to young investigators that represent the next generation of cancer oncologists. ASCO and AACR are the two leading professional organizations that serve the oncology community.

Dr. Chemtai Mungo

Dr. Chemtai Mungo of UC San Francisco is the recipient of the Conquer Cancer-Swim Across America Young Investigator Award. Dr. Mungo has received a $60,000 grant that will allow her to provide cervical cancer prevention among HIV-positive women. Dr. Mungo describes her personal story, growing up in rural Kenya, as one of inequality that has been a challenge and an inspiration.

Dr. Manisha Jalan

Dr. Manisha Jalan of Memorial Sloan Kettering is the recipient of the AACR-Swim Across America Cancer Research Fellowship. Dr. Jalan has received a $60,000 grant to develop a high throughput assay to test if DNA breaks can be repaired using alternative template other than DNA, to ensure genome stability. Genome instability, especially in breast and ovarian cancer, has long been considered the primary driver of most cancer types.

Dr. Mungo and Dr. Jalan will be honored October 15th at the Value Based Cancer Summit. The Summit is a think tank of academic, industry and business leaders committed to improving cancer care while improving access for patients. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, past FDA-Commissioner, is the keynote speaker. Swim Across America is the official charity supported by the Association for Value-Based Cancer Care.

Swim Across America Offers Swim Lessons to Cancer Survivors

Olympian Cammile Adams is an ambassador for our Swim Across America–Houston charity swim. She is also a swim school owner operating five SafeSplash and SwimLabs schools in greater Houston.

Cammile Adams & Adam Schoen

With quarantine and social distancing to prevent COVID-19, the opportunity for cancer survivors to swim and support Swim Across America has been greatly reduced. Cancer survivors need to be especially aware of their surroundings so being able to swim, or learn to swim, in a safe and clean environment is necessary.

Swim Across America and Cam have teamed up to offer lessons to cancer survivors in the Houston area. The first survivor to receive a lesson is Adam Schoen. Adam, married to wife Claire and father to son Theo (3-years old) and daughter Halle (2-months old), is a brain cancer survivor. He was treated at MD Anderson, beneficiary for Swim Across America-Houston. Adam shares his story on his personal page.

Cam at the 2019 Swim Across America-Houston

“I love teaching,” said Cam. “This is a wonderful opportunity for me to help Adam and other cancer survivors.”

SAA – San Francisco’s Susan Helmrich Interviews “Why We Swim” Author Bonnie Tsui in Virtual Conversation

 

Swim Across America – San Francisco Event Director and cancer survivor Susan Helmrich will be interviewing “Why We Swim” author Bonnie Tsui in a Zoom Conversation this Wednesday, June 3rd. Topics will include all things swimming, community and the reasons “why we swim.” Susan Helmrich has been the Event Director for SAA – San Francisco for 13 years and her “Team Susan Survives” is consistently a top national fundraising team for Swim Across America.

Susan has been a member of U.S. Masters Swimmers for decades and a daily swimmer for most of her life — except during her three bouts with cancer. An epidemiologist, she has studied how over-the-counter and prescription medications affect women’s health and the effects of physical activity on health and well-being” says Berkeley City Club, the host of the virtual conversation.

Both women are avid swimmers and excited to talk about what draws them to the water and what they love about swimming. The Zoom Conversation will take place on Wednesday, June 3rd at 7:00 p.m. PST (10:00 p.m. EST). Swimmers and non-swimmers alike are invited to participate. RSVP here: sydneyc@swimacrossamerica.org.