“I have committed myself to helping others accomplish their goals, and help raise awareness and money for cancer research, specifically for Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.”
Eric Vitcenda was introduced to Swim Across America in 2017 while competing at Ironman Maryland when he asked about another triathlete’s SAA t-shirt. Soon after, his wife and SAA-Denver Co-event director, Jessica’s swim pod initiated efforts to bring SAA to the Denver area. With his swimming and volunteer experience, he knew he could do something to help and make a difference.
Eric was “voluntold” he would handle the “SAA World”; little did he know what that would mean, or what it would eventually lead to. From initial coordination of receiving, storing, and transporting the SAA site equipment to camping overnight to ensure its security at the event site there is no limit to Eric’s volunteering and support of SAA. “I learned to set—and reset—the event course, blow up the buoys, and ensure the SAA arch was ready to welcome participants and provide a sunrise photo shoot. I may miss out on the opening ceremonies, but I’m driven to make the event as memorable as possible with the goal of increasing future participation and donations. And the people I meet each year and the friends I have made as a result are my reward.”
Eric has since moved on to be a leader in his Denver community when it comes to spreading the mission of SAA and wanting to make a difference in cancer research. From coordinating pool swims, rallying his company to get involved, donating platelets to cancer patients and teaching one of SAA-Denver’s patient ambassadors, Markus to swim – a week prior to last year’s event. “We told Markus that a half-mile was quite an accomplishment for a non-swimmer, and his exhausted smile when he came out of the water was the best reward for all my efforts throughout the year to support and promote SAA. I have used that day since to motivate me to work hard and find unique ways to make sure people across Colorado and the country know about SAA and what has been accomplished over the past 35 years” says Eric.
While Eric has been fortunate enough to have a healthy and active life, he has been inspired by those around him going through their own battle with cancer to make a difference in their honor. His aunt is a breast cancer survivor and in 2018 he lost a dear friend and coworker to cancer. He later found out that the coworker’s daughter had received treatment at Children’s Hospital Colorado, the beneficiary of SAA-Denver fundraising and awareness efforts. This led Eric to become the captain of Team WorldPay Colorado, in their honor. “I have committed myself to helping others accomplish their goals, and help raise awareness and money for cancer research, specifically for Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.”
Swim Across America is celebrating 35 years of impact in 2022. SAA has raised $100 million since its inception in 1987 to support cancer research and clinical trials across the U.S. Please contact Jeni Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org for media inquiries.