#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.

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.”

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!”

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 and Moffit Cancer Center

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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 – Nantucket at Nantucket Cottage Hospital 

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SAA – Seattle at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

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SAA – San Francisco at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital

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SAA – Denver at Children’s Hospital Colorado

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MORE THAN 30 COLLEGES PARTICIPATED IN SWIM ACROSS AMERICA IN 2018

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Community service is one of the best ways for college swim programs to build team chemistry and goodwill with their university. In 2018, more than 30 college programs volunteered their time by participating in a Swim Across America charity swim.

Swim Across America’s slogan is #MakingWavesToFightCancer and it does so by hosting open water charity swims. Since it’s founding in 1987, SAAs charity swim program has granted over $80 million to its mission of funding cancer research and clinical trials.

“364 days a year we compete with each other,” said Providence College head coach John O’Neill at the Swim Across America—Rhode Island charity swim. “But today, we all wear the same swim cap. We’ve all been touched by cancer and we swim in honor of survivors and those we’ve lost so that others may have hope.” John was awarded the College Swim Coaches Association of America community service award in 2016 for his support of Swim Across America.

The college programs that participated and volunteered at an SAA charity swim include Assumption College, Boston University, Bryant University, Brown University, Cal Catawba College, College of Holy Cross, Colorado School of Mines, East Carolina University, Emory, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Loyola University, Maryville University, McKendree University, Northeastern University, Penn State, Providence College, Queens University, Roger Williams University, Seattle University, SMU, St. Louis University, TCU, Truman State, Tufts University, University of California, University of Connecticut, University of Georgia, University of Idaho, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Missouri, University of Missouri – St. Louis, University of North Texas, University of Texas, Ursuline College, Villanova and Wesleyan University.

The 2019 Swim Across America calendar will include charity swims in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charleston-Kiawah, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Denver, Fairfield County (CT), Houston, Long Island, Nantucket, Nassau (NY), Richmond, Rhode Island, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis and Tampa.

Olympian Craig Beardsley heads up Swim Across America’s college program. He can be reached at craig@swimacrossamerica.org to learn more.

SAA FAMILY TREE (OCTOBER 2018)

SAA Family Tree is a monthly focus on stories that display the impact all the members of the Swim Across America family have both locally and nationally. If you have a story or link you’d like to share, please send here.

 

SAA – Charleston-Kiawah

  • Event Director Brad Johnson promoted our 2nd annual swim on Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

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SAA – Seattle

SAA – Atlanta

  • This 11Alive Recap of the Atlanta swim and ‘Amazing’ Grace Bunke’s legacy at the swim is a fitting tribute: “Hope has no finish line.”Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 2.30.26 PM

SAA – Baltimore

SAA – Charlotte

  • SAA CEO Rob Butcher donned the wetsuit on WCCB News Rising.Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 2.22.01 PM
  • SAA Director of Marketing Ryan Baucom and Dr. Edward Copelan of Levine Cancer Institute talked all things SAA on Charlotte Today.38280536_2204571959556269_4391243862727720960_n

SAA – Richmond

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TEAM STACEY HITS $1 MILLION FUNDRAISING MARK

TEAM STACEY will be swimming together and fundraising for the 10th year in 2018 at SAA-Sound to Cove in memory of Stacey Rose Leondis. This year, TEAM STACEY will pass the $1 million fundraising mark as a team in addition to being the top overall fundraising team across the country in 2017.

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According to family, Stacey was a beautiful, smart and exuberant young woman.  Stacey was diagnosed with osteosarcoma when she was 16 years old and passed away at the young age of 23.  During those seven years, she graduated high school, graduated Yale University and was accepted to Mount Sinai medical school.

Ellen Leondis, Stacey’s mother, on the impact SAA has had: “Being part of the SAA family has allowed us to continue Stacey’s fight for a cure and celebrate her inspirational life.”

Pam Danbusky, a Nassau-Suffolk Committee member shared her memory of Stacey and why she swims: “I swim for Stacey Rose.  Someone I wanted to be like, someone younger who I looked up to, someone who I wish was still here.  If we were all more like Stacey the world would be a better place.  I swim to keep her legacy and beauty alive in this world.”

Swim Across America salutes TEAM STACEY for all their hard work fundraising in her memory and look forward to celebrating the next $1 million raised and the impact it will have! You can donate to TEAM STACEY today to help fight this dreaded disease.

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