SWIM ACROSS AMERICA PARTNERS WITH MUSC HOLLINGS CANCER CENTER FOR CHARLESTON-KIAWAH ISLAND SWIM

IMG_8156Swim Across America is excited to announce that the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina will be the official beneficiary of its Charleston-Kiawah Island Open Water Charity Swim held annually at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

“As an organization, one of our main goals is to have all funds raised at our events granted to local beneficiaries,” said Swim Across America CEO Rob Butcher. “Partnering with a local cancer research program with a great national reputation such as the Hollings Cancer Center will create a tangible impact in the greater Charleston area as well as bring excitement to our Charleston-Kiawah swim community.”

Swimming enthusiasts, including Olympians, kayakers and volunteers will take part in Swim Across America’s 3rd annual Charleston-Kiawah Island Open Water Swim on Sunday, August 4th, 2019.

“This last year Hollings Cancer Center has made several milestone scientific discoveries,” said Gustavo Leone, Ph.D. Director of Hollings Cancer Center. “The SAA community will help us move these discoveries into impactful clinical trials that will change the conversation about cancer. Engaging the community to bring solutions to fight and eradicate this terrible disease is simply a good thing. We are looking forward to the 2019 event on Kiawah Island.”

 

Swim Across Americais a national non-profit that runs swimming-related events throughout the country to support cancer research at the most highly recognized hospitals and institutions. To date, more than $80 million has been raised nationwide over the last 32 years and more than 100 Olympians have participated in SAA events. For more information, visit www.swimacrossamerica.org.

The Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center and the largest academic-based cancer research program in South Carolina. The cancer center is comprised of more than 120 faculty cancer scientists with a research funding portfolio of $44 million and a dedication to reducing the cancer burden in South Carolina. Hollings offers state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities, therapies and surgical techniques within multidisciplinary clinics that include surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation therapists, radiologists, pathologists, psychologists and other specialists equipped for the full range of cancer care, including more than 200 clinical trials. For more information, please visit www.hollingscancercenter.org.

 

Swim Across America Grant Helps to Fully Fund a Pediatric AML Clinical Trial at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center

In 2017, Swim Across America made a commitment to grant $1M from its Swim Across America—Atlanta charity swim to fund a pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML) clinical trial at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The total cost of the trial is $2M.

We are pleased to share that the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Touchdowns for Children’s (T4C) program has dedicated 2018-2019 funds raised so that the trial is fully funded. T4C allows fans to support the patients cared for at the Aflac Cancer Center, while also cheering on their favorite college football team. Fans have the chance to help pediatric cancer and blood disorders patients by pledging as little as $1 for every touchdown scored by their favorite team during the 12-game season. The program is inspired by Anna Charles Hollis. Anna was a brave patient at the Aflac Cancer Center who courageously battled AML for six months before passing away.

According to the America Society of Clinical Oncology, leukemia is the most common childhood cancer, and AML is the second most common form of leukemia in children. According to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, only 4% or an estimated $198M of federal government funding goes to study pediatric cancer research.

Swim Across America’s belief in the promise of the clinical trial led by Dr. Doug Graham and Dr. Deb DeRyckere, provided SAA the confidence to grant $1M to the Aflac Cancer Center. We knew additional funding from the philanthropic community would be needed so the trial could continue, and we were pleased to champion for the additional funds and are excited to partner with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Touchdowns for Children’s Program.

We thank our supporters and will keep you updated on the progress of the trial.968513_FND_T4C_logo_FINAL.jpg

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#WHYISWIM for SAA in 2019

Swim Across America is highlighting our amazing participants and top fundraisers in 2019 and their inspiration for why they swim with SAA. If you are interested in sharing your #WhyISwim story with us, contact Allie.

Stephen Brown – SAA – Charlotte

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Stephen Brown is the leading fundraiser for SAA – Charlotte. He has participated in the swim since it started 3 years ago and is co-captain for MSA Team Out My Box. Stephen is swimming in memory and honor of many friends. One of those friends, BJ Correll is a true inspiration for Stephen. He says, “In Dec 2015 I had the honor to meet BJ and make his life long dream come true to be a Navy SEAL by presenting him with a certificate from SEAL Team 8 naming him a honorary SEAL. BJ Correll fought the bravest and most courageous 3 1/2 year fight against aggressive acute lymphoblastic leukemia with grace and unwavering faith in God. He epitomized bravery and courage in the face of adversity. He never complained. His smile and the sparkle in his eyes remained throughout his fight. He was a true warrior. This year our MSA family has three teammates that are dealing with Cancer in their personal life. We are doing everything in our MSA family to be there for them. We are MSA Strong.”

Tiffani Panek – SAA – Baltimore

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Tiffani has been participating in SAA – Baltimore since 2016 and is currently one of the top fundraisers for 2019. Tiffani says: “I swim in memory of so many of my friends and family I’ve lost and those that are still fighting. I joined in 2016 as part of Team Bayview even though I’d never done an open water swim before and was terrified. But if they could go through cancer, then I could do this. It was an incredible experience and I continue to swim every year for the day when cancer is a thing of the past.”

Joyce Kelly – SAA – San Francisco

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Joyce Kelly participates in SAA – San Francisco and is currently the top fundraiser. Here’s why she does it: “My sister-in-law and I live far apart. Nearby family members have helper her tremendously with meal deliveries, birthdays, etc. but because of distance I cannot help in the same way. I wanted her to know I am with her in her struggle. I never swam 1.75 miles in the SF Bay before and yes it’s a challenge but nothing like the challenge Karen faces confronting her cancer. If everyone does what they can – a call, a meal, a donation – and yes train to swim from the Golden Gate to shore we all move step by step (or stroke by stroke) towards a cancer free future.”

Lisa Simon – SAA – Chicago

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Lisa has been involved with Swim Across America – Chicago since 2016 and is currently one of the top fundraisers for 2019! Here is why she swims: “In 2015, my dad passed away after a courageous and difficult battle with melanoma. Cancer is one of those diseases that will affect everyone at some point in their life. In 2016, I received an email for Swim Across America and thought this would be a great way for me to honor my dad. I joined Team Anne, Mike and Friends after a friend of mine introduced me. I swim in memory of my dad, Charles Simon. I swim in honor of family and friends who have battled and beat cancer. I swim for the young child to the adult who have battled cancer. I swim because we need to find a cure for cancer.”

Aaron Kwittken – SAA – Long Island Sound

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Aaron Kwittken has been involved with SAA – Long Island Sound since 2017. Aaron suffered from severe, chronic asthma and allergies as a kid and didn’t learn to swim until he was 11 years old after the doctor said it would help rebuild his lungs. He was a competitive swimmer in high school and began racing in Ironman-distance triathlons 10 years ago. He says, “I swam the SAA – Long Island Sound 5K with Team Mackey in 2018 and watched my friend and our team captain, Mike Kelly conquer the 10K. His feat inspired me to train for the 10K this year. I am swimming in memory of my friends Kate Foster and Dave Robb. I too am a cancer survivor (melanoma). Swimming saved my life so now I swim to help save others.”

Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO & Swim Across America Team Up to Create Young Investigator Award

Swim Across America is supporting the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and ASCO’s Conquer Cancer Foundation with the creation of the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO/Swim Across America Young Investigator Award (YIA). ASCO is the world’s leading professional organization for physicians and oncology professionals caring for people with cancer. As ASCO’s philanthropic affiliate, Conquer Cancer funds researchers exploring treatments for every type of cancer, for patients everywhere.

The Young Investigator Award funds the best and brightest early-career cancer researchers and represents our greatest hope for developing more promising cancer treatments. The Swim Across America YIA recipient will receive a $50,000 grant to support a year of research.

The award recipient will be named May 31 at the ASCO annual meeting in Chicago when Swim Across America will be acknowledged.

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New Swim Across America Fundraising Mobile App Launched

The Swim Across America mobile app is now available for download on your iOS or Android device! With this new app, you can:

  • Monitor your fundraising progress, and thank your donors for their support
  • Update your page with a personalized story and photo
  • Share your page using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or SMS
  • Send emails easily by importing your contacts list with just one click
  • And more!

Downloading the app on your phone or tablet takes less than a minute. Visit the App Store or Google Play Store to get started!

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Meet the Event Directors of SAA

Swim Across America is lucky to have many amazing leaders to organize and run our open water charity swims. These people are the heart and soul of our organization and we could not do this without them. Read more about each of them below.

Amy Maguire – SAA – Tampa

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Amy has been involved with Swim Across America for 2 years.  She started out as a sponsor and in 2017 was asked to be the event director for the Tampa Bay swim.  She lead her first SAA – Tampa Bay event in April 2018.  She says: “SAA’s focus solely on cancer was a great draw for me.  I was hooked when I began working with the National team and meeting the other event directors.  Everyone is committed and kind.  I have volunteered for thirty years for countless organizations and this team has expertise, focus, kindness and are willing to help in so many ways.  They are supportive.  I believe we can make a difference in cancer care and research.” Her favorite parts about SAA are seeing the swimmers come out of the water, hearing survivor stories and seeing the benefits of our donations.

Mark Barr – SAA – Houston

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Mark got involved with SAA last year and is the ED for one of our new swims this year in Houston. Mark is a cancer survivor, lifelong swimmer, Paralympian and Nurse. He says: “Getting involved with Swim Across America was an easy decision for me. I love SAA’s mission to help unite the community while raising funds for cancer research and clinical trials by hosting swimming events around the nation. Houston is home of the largest medical center in the world and also has a robust swimming community, which together has the potential to make a massive impact. SAA is unique in that it designates ahead of time which hospital and doctors will be the beneficiaries of the funds raised, and I like that swimmers and fundraisers will know exactly where their dollars are going.”

Michele Graham – SAA – Fairfield County

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Michele started working with SAA – Fairfield County (previously SAA – Greenwich-Stamford) as a volunteer in 2013 and became the ED in 2015! Michele’s SAA journey started after her daughter, Nicole, was diagnosed with ALL leukemia in 2012. Nicole’s journey was “particularly heartbreaking — cancer treatment leading to sepsis shock, 2 weeks in a medically induced coma during which she incurred strokes on both sides of her brain.” Nicole started her cancer journey a tri-varsity athlete and 30 days after being diagnosed, was in a paralyzed state. Once she had recovered and was in remission, Nicole was asked to be the honored speaker at the 2013 SAA – Greenwich-Stanford event. You can view her entire story here. After celebrating her 5-year cancer free in Oct. 2017, Nicole relapsed at the beginning of Jan 2018. She had a stem cell transplant on June 29, 1 week after she co-chaired the 2018 swim. Michele says “I knew my journey included doing something to help other cancer patients and families. No one should have to go through what Nicole and our family went through. When the call came in January of 2015 asking me to be the ED, I knew this was my destiny. I’m committed to seeing the end of cancer for everyone.”

Kitty Tetreault SAA – Boston & SAA Rhode Island

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Kitty has been involved with SAA from the very beginning, starting as a swimmer for a couple years and then transitioning over to an Event Director. She started because it was fun and had just had a baby and was looking to change things up a bit. Kitty has many great memories from SAA but says “the best part is getting to meet so many interesting people who are passionate about swimming, our cause and making a difference.”

Tony Sibio – SAA – Long Island Sound

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Tony got involved with SAA after his son, Daniel was diagnosed with stage 4 rhabdomyosarcoma. His tumor was inoperable and the cancer spread to both lungs. Daniel was treated at NY Presbyterian Hospital, which is a beneficiary of SAA – Long Island Sound and is now in remission and him and his wife Liz have 2 beautiful girls Juliana & Isabel.  In 1992, Tony’s friend Frank Weber’s wife Kathy passed away from cancer and the Glanz brothers were starting a swim for SAA in her memory. Tony got involved then and says “now the rest is history.” His family and friends have participated over the years. His cousin Michael has been on the committee since 1995 and it is a great way to fight cancer and come together as a team. He says “we lost my cousin Debbie in 2015 to lung cancer. We need to continue our fight.” His favorite part about SAA is the “many, many friends I have made over the years. I enjoy working with everyone at National and with our Long Island Sound Committee, all the swimmers, donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries. Our goal is 100% cure rate!”

Jill Roethke – SAA – Nantucket

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Jill has been involved with Swim Across America since 2012, when she was a team captain and swam the 1-mile during the special SAA – Nantucket 25th anniversary swim. She has been a competitive swimmer all her life and comes from a family of swimmers but got involved after her husband had been diagnosed with cancer. Jill became a Co-Event Director alongside Jim Pignato in 2013, after she convinced SAA to bring back the annual swim. Her favorite part about SAA is “making a tangible difference in our community, being a part of something bigger as a part of the Swim Across America family and the friendships that have evolved directly as a result of SAA both locally and nationally.” She also says, “One of my favorite memories is being on the support boat while Grant Wentworth raised over $150,000 for SAA-Nantucket while swimming from Cape Cod to Nantucket.”

Nicole Vanderpoel – SAA – Denver

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Nicole Vanderpoel was the Event Director for the inaugural SAA – Denver swim in 2018. Nicole learned of SAA through her friend Sheri Hart who was involved with SAA – Atlanta. Nicole had a passion for swimming and helping all to live a better life. She also has many friends and family who have suffered with cancer and she wanted to make a difference and help fight cancer locally in Colorado! She says “I felt there is so much passion in Colorado for swimming and fighting cancer that we could truly make this happen and make It magical.” Her favorite SAA – Denver memory thus far was her “involvement with Children’s Hospital Colorado and Patient Ambassadors” and “watching the swimmers come out of the water after they achieved their goals in swimming knowing they are helping to fight cancer.”

Scott Whelan – SAA – Seattle

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Scott has been involved with Swim Across America for 10 years now. He got involved because he “enjoys every aspect of the swimming community and really wanted to find a way to defeat this ugly disease called cancer.” Scott’s favorite part of SAA events is “high-fiving and shaking hands with swimmers and watching the expression of deep accomplishment as they exit the water.”

Swim Across America Awards $5.6 Million in Grants for 2019

Swim Across America is more than a swim, we are a cause and we are family. Volunteers and participants more than donate, they have created a culture that SAA offers empowerment and hope.

Because of our passionate and devoted SAA supporters, in 2018, SAA granted a record $5.6 million to beneficiaries in the communities of our charity swims (Click here to see the beneficiaries). Since our founding over three decades ago, we’ve granted over $80 million dollars that has led to new cancer cures in immunotherapy, breakthroughs in new screening and detection methods, and helped to pioneer personalized medicine.

Our calendar features 20 open water charity swims. You can view the calendar and register via this link. As we look to begin our 32nd year, 2019 will be guided by this theme: Hope has no finish line. This is more than a slogan for SAA, it is to honor the life of the “amazing” Grace Bunke who we lost in 2018 from osteosarcoma at the young age of 14. Grace’s last wish was to be the #1 fundraiser for SAA and challenged our community to continue raising funds that will help doctors give hope to families in the fight against cancer. Grace’s message inspires us to think bigger about our purpose.

Please accept our heartfelt thanks for your generosity. We look forward to seeing you in 2019 as we continue to #MakeWavesToFightCancer.