35 Stories of Impact: Jay Peluso of SAA-Richmond

Jay Peluso
Swim Across America – Richmond

5 years with Swim Across America
Age 50; Raised over $130,000 with SAA-Richmond as Event Director

“The folks at Swim Across America were amazing. They helped us so much I can’t even explain it.”

Before joining Swim Across America’s Richmond swim, Jay Peluso used to own an event company called Peluso Open Water that produced open water swimming events and SwimRun events. Jay has always loved swimming. But in his previous life, he was an attorney. He had left the practice of law to focus on his new company after one of his law office partners had gone through cancer treatments. Jay decided he was going to turn one of his events into a Swim Across America fundraising event, in honor of his colleague who had been impacted by cancer. Jay reached out to Rob Butcher, Swim Across America’s CEO, whom he had known through his days at the U.S. Masters Swimming organization, and the first-ever Swim Across America Richmond event was hosted in 2018! Fast forward through the pandemic and Jay’s life changed dramatically. 

“I went back to practicing law, and let’s just say, the event world had taken a major hit from the pandemic,” said Jay. “I told Rob Butcher and the Swim Across America team that I just couldn’t run the 2022 event.” 

A few months after Jay had made his decision to return to the practice of law, he got a life-changing call from his sister, Michele. “I have cancer,” said Michele on the other line. Jay felt lost and didn’t know what to do, so he reached out to Rob Butcher for advice and direction. 

“The folks at Swim Across America were amazing. They helped us so much I can’t even explain it,” said Jay. With advice from the Swim Across America medical advisors, Michele is now being treated for ovarian cancer at Rhode Island Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island,  which is the Swim Across America Rhode Island beneficiary, and also being seen by a team at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, the Swim Across America Boston beneficiary. 

“I felt such gratitude,” said Jay. “One night my girlfriend Wynne and I stayed up late talking about how thankful we were for everyone at Swim Across America. I won’t lie, a few tears were shed and we both decided that we HAD to be sure the Swim Across America Richmond event happened. So we shared our story and are back in full force with an August 27 event date and a large team of volunteers. Michele is undergoing her third round of treatment and as Rob likes to say, ’THERE IS HOPE.’”

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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