35 Stories of Impact: Team Gans Strong of SAA-Charlotte

Sandra & Allie Gans
Swim Across America – Charlotte

5 years with Swim Across America
Sandra 57; Allie 26; Raised over $11,000 across all events

“We continue to give back to the cancer community in Charlotte, which we know all too well, to give hope to all of the families who unfortunately have to go through the same thing as us. We hope that maybe one day the word cancer will be the past. We hope that hearing the word cancer doesn’t present the immediate feeling of fear. We hope that cancer will no longer be an earth-shattering diagnosis, but something that can be treated and even prevented.”

In 2017, the Gans Family’s world was completely flipped upside down when Jeff Gans was diagnosed with oral cancer. Allie, the youngest of the family, was finishing up her senior year of college and frequenting home to be with her Dad. Jeff went through 9.5 hours of intensive surgery that left him with a trach and unable to speak for days but ultimately removed the cancer from his body. Fast forward a few months, Allie graduated college and was looking to start her career when she got connected to Swim Across America. Needless to say it was a perfect match being able to work for an organization that raises funds to further cancer research. Not to mention, the Charlotte Swim supports Levine Cancer Institute, where Jeff was treated.

Soon after Allie joined the team, her mom Sandra got involved as she wanted a way to give back to the cancer community and help others that were going through the same thing as they had. The two started Team Gans Strong in 2018 and the team has raised over $10,000 to support cancer research in their Charlotte community since. 

In 2021, Sandra and Allie decided to take their involvement deeper and became co-event directors for SAA-Charlotte. The mother-daughter duo led the Charlotte swim in 2021 which raised over $215,000 to fund cancer research and clinical trials.

In October of 2021, just three weeks after the Charlotte swim, Jeff was informed he had a recurrence of oral cancer. He has since undergone another extensive surgery, chemo & immunotherapy, six weeks of radiation and started his long road to recovery. All of that making Swim Across America even more purposeful this year. Team Gans Strong is dedicated to raising funds to further cancer research here in Charlotte and provide hope and inspiration for those in the same boat. 

“We continue to give back to the cancer community in Charlotte, which we know all too well, to give hope to all of the families who unfortunately have to go through the same thing as us. We hope that maybe one day the word cancer will be the past. We hope that hearing the word cancer doesn’t present the immediate feeling of fear. We hope that cancer will no longer be an earth-shattering diagnosis, but something that can be treated and even prevented.”

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 jhoward@jhowardpr.com for media inquiries.

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