Best of 2018 Beneficiary Check Presentations

Swim Across America celebrated the end of the year across the country by presenting checks to our esteemed beneficiaries. Here is a collection of smiling faces as the hard fundraising work is now seeing its impact multiplied in the fight against cancer.

SAA – Tampa at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital

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SAA – Chicago at Rush University Medical Center

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SAA – Charlotte at Levine Cancer Institute

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SAA – Baltimore at Johns Hopkins Medicine

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SAA – Atlanta at Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta 

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SAA – Greenwich at Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy

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SAA Congratulate the Top Fundraisers of 2018

We are excited to recognize some extra special people – our Top Swim Across America Team and Individual Fundraisers of 2018. These people pushed their fundraising efforts to make the biggest waves in their communities when it comes to fighting cancer. 

Top 5 Fundraising Teams

5. Team Valerie – $141,287 (SAA – Long Island Sound)

The team surpassed their goal this year and raised $141,287 to fight cancer with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian and Cancer Support Team! Great job #MakingWaves in your community, Team Valerie!

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4. Team Amazing Grace + Take That Benedict – $155,722 (SAA – Atlanta)

Team Amazing Grace + Take That Benedict which raised $155,722 for Swim Across America – Atlanta benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The team was formed in honor of 2 sarcoma patients – Grace and Julie. One of the highlights of the SAA – Atlanta swim this year was Vicki Corte Bunke and Dr. Karen Wasilewski (pictured) swimming to honor Grace’s memory! #amazinggrace

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3. Team Julian – $169,731 (SAA – Greenwich-Stamford)

Team Julian from Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford! The team took a big fundraising leap from last year and raised $169,731 for Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT)! Way to go, Team Julian!

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2. Team Susan Survives – $171,431 (SAA – San Francisco Bay)

Team Susan Survives from Swim Across America – San Francisco Bay! The team hit their record high raising $171,431 this year to support UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco! Team Susan Survives is captained by SAA – San Francisco’s very own Co-Event Director and cancer survivor Susan Helmrich! The team has raised over $768,000 to support cancer research and patient care since 2011!

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1. Team Stacey – $249,103 (SAA – Nassau-Suffolk)

Congratulations to our Top Fundraising Team of 2018: Team Stacey from Swim Across America – Nassau – Suffolk! The team raised $249,103 to support Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Feinstein Institute Northwell Health! Team Stacey celebrated its 10th Anniversary of participating in SAA – Sound to Cove this year and is the Top Fundraising Team for the second year in a row! The team was formed in memory of Stacey Rose Leondis and has raised over $1.1 million for cancer research, treatment, and prevention! Way to Make (BIG) Waves to Fight Cancer, Team Stacey!

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Top 5 Individual Fundraisers

5. Dan Benoit – $36,593 (SAA – Seattle)

Dan Benoit raised $36,593 for SAA – Seattle’s 10th Anniversary this year! Dan has been involved with Swim Across America – Seattle for 3 years after his son, Matt formed Team Benoit while undergoing treatments at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. He has raised over $120,000 since 2016 to support immunotherapy clinical trials and cancer research Seattle Cancer Care Alliance! Way to #makewavestofightcancer, Dan!

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4. Steven Lurie – $39,107 (SAA – San Francisco Bay)

Our 4th Top Fundraiser of 2018: Steven Lurie from Swim Across America – San Francisco Bay! Steven participated in his first SAA- San Francisco Bay swim last year and was the #1 Fundraiser of 2017. He got involved after his son, Seth was diagnosed with a rare cancer at the age of three! Steven has raised over $90,000 in just two years to support UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital where his son was treated and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland!

Steven Lurie Top Fundraiser 2018

3. Mark McCooey – $52,830 (SAA – Long Island Sound)

Shoutout to our #3 Top Fundraiser: Mark McCooey from SAA – Long Island Sound! Mark raised $52,830 this year to support Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian and Cancer Support Team! Mark has been participating in SAA – Long Island Sound for the past 17 years as a part of Team Clare, named after his late cousin, Clare Reynolds. Team Clare has raised over $1M since its inception! Thanks for continuing to join us in this fight against cancer, Mark! We look forward to seeing you #makewavestofightcancer again next year!

Mark McCooey Top Fundraiser 2018

2. Tony Sibio – $101,917 (SAA – Long Island Sound)

Our #2 Top Fundraiser of 2018 is our very own SAA – Long Island Sound Event Director, Tony Sibio! Tony raised $101,917 this year to support Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian and Cancer Support Team! His family has been involved with SAA – Long Island Sound from the very beginning after his son was diagnosed with cancer and treated at New York-Presbyterian. Thank you for all that you do, Tony and way to go on being the second highest fundraiser this year!

Tony Sibio Top Fundraiser 2018

1. Grace Bunke – $119,579 (SAA – Atlanta)

We are honored to announce our #1 overall fundraiser of 2018 is ‘Amazing’ Grace Bunke of SAA – Atlanta. Grace’s fundraising totaled $119,579 this year benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where she was treated. Grace Bunke was one of the top national fundraisers and SAA – Atlanta’s number one fundraiser in 2017. One of her final wishes was to be the top national fundraiser for Swim Across America in 2018. In completing this goal, she continues to inspire not only the Atlanta community but all of us at Swim Across America.

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SAA On the Scene – November 2018

As the 2018 Open Water season comes to an end, SAA National members have been at some great events around the country spreading the SAA mission. Check them out and contact us if you have an event you’d like to have featured!

Golden Goggles Award Ceremony (New York, NY – November 19, 2018)

Swim Across America’s own and Olympian Craig Beardsley represented SAA at the 2018 Golden Goggles Awards in New York. Craig along with 4-time Olympic Medalist Maya Dirado, presented the Coach of the Year Award!

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World Open Water Swimming Association Conference (San Francisco, CA – November 10, 2018)

SAA’s Director of Events Megan Melgaard and San Francisco Bay Swim Co-Event Director Susan Helmrich presented “Swimming for Good” and “Why I Swim” on behalf of Swim Across America at the WOWSA Conference held at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

 

 

Santa Barbara Pool Swim (Santa Barbara, CA – November 4, 2018)

The inaugural “SB Swims for a Cure” pool swim was held at the Los Banos del Mar Pool in Santa Barbara, California. The event doubled their fundraising goal in just it’s first year, raising over $11,400! SAA’s own Megan Melgaard and Craig Beardsley were able to attend the event and give some pointers to the swimmers! If you’re interesting in starting a pool swim contact Craig Beardsley!

 

Swim Across America Elects 2019 Officers

Nov. 15 — Swim Across America held its annual Board of Directors meeting and has re-elected Jean Fufidio, Janel McArdle, Pam Ryan, Jack Salerno, Doug Towne and Burt Zweigenhaft to 2-year terms through the Fall 2020 annual board meeting.

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Board Members and SAA Staff at the 2018 Board Meeting

Hugh Curran was a college graduate when he and childhood friends ran across the United States to raise money for cancer research (the 1984-85 run was the inspiration to create a charity swim program that has become Swim Across America). Hugh has given unselfishly to SAA for over 30 years, including the past nine years as Board Chair. Believing the time is right for our next board leader, Hugh nominated and the board of directors unanimously elected Pam Ryan to be the chair. Pam previously served as the Secretary. Hugh was elected to be the Vice Chair and he will support Pam in the transition to the board leader. The board then elected Janel McArdle to be the Secretary and Bob Coakley was re-elected as Treasurer.

The board committee appointments are as follows:

  • Audit: Kevin Shine (Chair), Burt Zweigenhaft, Michael Agis (non-board special appointment)
  • Beneficiary: Dr. Evan Vosburgh (Chair), Janel McArdle, Rob Butcher, Amy Krakauer (staff)
  • Branding: Jack Salerno (Chair), Kimbery Wetty, Jean Fufidio, Ryan Baucom (staff)
  • Governance: Matt Vossler (Chair), Hugh Curran, Kevin Shine, Kimberly Wetty, Rob Butcher
  • Finance: Bob Coakley (Chair), Janel McArdle, Jamie Mannion, Jean Fufidio, Jedd Hall (non-board special appointment), Rich Thompkins (non-board special appointment), Rob Butcher, Amy Krakauer (staff)
  • Risk Management: Megan Melgaard (Chair), Matt Vossler, Doug Towne

Swim Across America holds two face-to-face board meetings each year; an annual meeting held at the conclusion of the charity swim season and a winter meeting held before the charity swim begins.

Swim Across America Honored at the Value-Based Cancer Care Summit

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Olympians Craig Beardsley, Rowdy Gaines and Steve Lundquist

The 8th annual Value Based Cancer Care Summit brought together more than 300 thought leaders in academic, government, pharmaceutical and biotech. Change and innovation are happening at a fast pace in the field of healthcare and especially oncology. The purpose of the two-day summit was to create an active dialogue among the stakeholders in oncology care that ultimately will improve the quality of patient care.

Swim Across America, which has granted over $80 million dollars into cancer research, clinical trials and prevention, was selected as the beneficiary for the summit. Several of the oncologists shared during panel discussions the importance of Swim Across America’s early stage grant funding and how SAA’s funding has helped lead to breakthroughs and FDA approvals of new immunotherapy treatments.

In a personal testimonial, Dr. Jedd Wolchok of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center eloquently shared that SAA grant funding has helpeIMG_0279.JPGd numerous young investigators move forward their research ideas, many of whom are immigrants and are the pioneers in immunotherapy and personalized medicine.

Olympian and SAA ambassador Rowdy Gaines attended the summit giving a keynote talk about the 1980 Olympic boycott and how he persevered against the odds to win three gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic games. Rowdy also shared how cancer has touched his life, losing his stepfather and sister to the disease.

The evening reception was attended by the Swim Across America Board of Directors, Olympians Steve Lundquist and Craig Beardsley, and the leaders from our SAA-Long Island Sound and SAA-Fairfield County charity swims. The reception was dedicated to Swim Across America as we shared stories from survivors, volunteers, and participants.

It was an honor for Swim Across America contributions to be recognized and it was meaningful to be part of these important discussions as we strengthened our relationships and lifted our goodwill.

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SAA Remembers Quinn the Leonberger

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It is with sadness that we inform you that the beloved Quinn the Leonberger passed shortly after the 2018 Dallas swim. Quinn and his handler Peggy Walker were participants and supporters of the Swim Across America – Dallas event from the beginning. Quinn not only attended each open water and pool swim, but he was also a magnet for the media which helped spread the word about the importance of phase 1 fundraising and the great work being done at the Swim Across America Innovative Clinical Trial Center at BaylorScott&White. He and Peggy were introduced to the swim through the Cancer Center where Quinn was a pet therapy dog. Both he and Peggy had been touched by cancer so their support and participation was only natural.  In total, Quinn raised $27,520 for the swim making him one of the event’s largest fundraisers.

His gentle spirit was a highlight for many survivors, participants and children who were usually not expecting to see a dog the size of Quinn but automatically smiled when they realize how gentle he was.

He was surrounded by his family, at home in his living room when he left. He will be deeply missed and we thank Peggy Walker for sharing him with the Swim Across America family.