Swim Across America partnered with the Michael Phelps Foundation for an inspiring charity swim honoring Michael’s learn-to-swim coach and cancer survivor, Cathy Bennett. The event in Mesa, Arizona raised over $55,000 that will fund a cancer research project at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore.
Bennett, whom Phelps affectionately refers to as Ms. Cathy, is the Program Director of the Michael Phelps Foundation where she oversees the Foundation’s signature program – IM – which provides learn-to-swim, recreational aquatic activities, organized swim instruction, as well as health, wellness, and goal-setting programming.
Phelps, the most decorated swimmer in World Championships history and 28-time Olympic medalist, retired from competitive swimming in 2016.
Notable attendees included Dr. Bill Nelson, chief of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, three-time Olympian Allison Schmitt (2008, 2012, 2016), 2016 Olympic head coach and Arizona State University head coach Bob Bowman, and members of the ASU swim team.
In 2017, Swim Across America made a commitment to grant $1M from its Swim Across America—Atlanta charity swim to fund a pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML) clinical trial at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The total cost of the trial is $2M.
We are pleased to share that the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Touchdowns for Children’s (T4C) program has dedicated 2018-2019 funds raised so that the trial is fully funded. T4C allows fans to support the patients cared for at the Aflac Cancer Center, while also cheering on their favorite college football team. Fans have the chance to help pediatric cancer and blood disorders patients by pledging as little as $1 for every touchdown scored by their favorite team during the 12-game season. The program is inspired by Anna Charles Hollis. Anna was a brave patient at the Aflac Cancer Center who courageously battled AML for six months before passing away.
Swim Across America’s belief in the promise of the clinical trial led by Dr. Doug Graham and Dr. Deb DeRyckere, provided SAA the confidence to grant $1M to the Aflac Cancer Center. We knew additional funding from the philanthropic community would be needed so the trial could continue, and we were pleased to champion for the additional funds and are excited to partner with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Touchdowns for Children’s Program.
We thank our supporters and will keep you updated on the progress of the trial.
Swim Across America is supporting the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and ASCO’s Conquer Cancer Foundation with the creation of the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO/Swim Across America Young Investigator Award (YIA). ASCO is the world’s leading professional organization for physicians and oncology professionals caring for people with cancer. As ASCO’s philanthropic affiliate, Conquer Cancer funds researchers exploring treatments for every type of cancer, for patients everywhere.
The Young Investigator Award funds the best and brightest early-career cancer researchers and represents our greatest hope for developing more promising cancer treatments. The Swim Across America YIA recipient will receive a $50,000 grant to support a year of research.
The award recipient will be named May 31 at the ASCO annual meeting in Chicago when Swim Across America will be acknowledged.
Swim Across America is more than a swim, we are a cause and we are family. Volunteers and participants more than donate, they have created a culture that SAA offers empowerment and hope.
Because of our passionate and devoted SAA supporters, in 2018, SAA granted a record $5.6 million to beneficiaries in the communities of our charity swims (Click here to see the beneficiaries). Since our founding over three decades ago, we’ve granted over $80 million dollars that has led to new cancer cures in immunotherapy, breakthroughs in new screening and detection methods, and helped to pioneer personalized medicine.
Our calendar features 20 open water charity swims. You can view the calendar and register via this link. As we look to begin our 32nd year, 2019 will be guided by this theme: Hope has no finish line. This is more than a slogan for SAA, it is to honor the life of the “amazing” Grace Bunke who we lost in 2018 from osteosarcoma at the young age of 14. Grace’s last wish was to be the #1 fundraiser for SAA and challenged our community to continue raising funds that will help doctors give hope to families in the fight against cancer. Grace’s message inspires us to think bigger about our purpose.
Please accept our heartfelt thanks for your generosity. We look forward to seeing you in 2019 as we continue to #MakeWavesToFightCancer.
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.
Since it’s founding in 1987, SAA charity swims have funded more than $75 million to cancer research. SAA grant researchers have developed multiple FDA approved immunotherapies, gene therapy and personalized therapy treatments. Swim Across America Impact highlights where SAA grants have changed lives.
The 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine has been awarded to Dr. Jim Allison and Dr. Tasuku Honjo for their work in immunotherapy. Swim Across America grants have played a role in the development of their research.
Dr. Jim Allison has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his breakthrough research that our immune system can fight cancer. The Swim Across America research lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center collaborated with Dr. Allison to focus its research and clinical trials to understand how immunotherapy treatments could be developed for patients. The research and our grant funding at Memorial Sloan is more important than ever to understand why some patients respond to immunotherapy and others
Dr. Tasuku Honjo was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine. His discovery helped pioneer a new type of cancer treatment called immunotherapy. With Dr. Honjo’s discovery, SAA beneficiary Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins was able to conduct a clinical trial funded by Swim Across America that helped lead to the FDA approval of Keytruda. Families are being given hope because of pioneering research and non-profits like Swim Across America that provide grant funding.
Swim Across America, a 501(c)3 that hosts charity swims with a purpose of granting the proceeds to fund cancer research, is pleased to announce it is awarding a $50,000 grant to Dr. Robyn Gartrell of Columbia University Medical Center and a $50,000 grant to Dr. Julie Saba of UC Children’s Hospital Oakland. The awarding of these two grants is a result of additional fundraising that was received in 2017 and is in addition to the $4,891,422 that SAA awarded for 2018 to its beneficiaries.
Since it’s founding in 1987, SAA charity swims have funded more than $75 million to cancer research. SAA grant researchers have developed multiple FDA approved immunotherapies, gene therapy and personalized therapy treatments. Over 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year. Because of SAA grants, oncologists have been able to conduct research that otherwise wouldn’t have been funded and more families have hope in the fight against cancer.
Dr. Gartrell will use her grant to study childhood brain tumors, including high-grade glioma (HGG), the most aggressive type of brain cancer in children. New treatment methods using the immune system, called immunotherapies, offer promise for helping to treat HGG in children. Dr. Gartrell’s team will study specific immune cells in and around HGG to determine the best approach in applying immunotherapy to this devastating disease.
Dr. Saba will use her grant to study a cancer-related gene (AF1q) first identified in an infant with leukemia. Some types of cancers have high AF1q levels, and patient outcomes are worse in AF1q-positive tumors and leukemia. Scientists have concluded that AF1q is a “genetic driver” of cancer. The proposed project and SAA grant funding will compare the protein profiles on the surface of cancer cells either containing or lacking AF1q. By doing so, Dr. Saba expects to identify proteins that act as surrogate markers of AF1q expression that could be targeted by immune therapy. It is hoped that this study will move closer to developing a cure for cancers in which AF1q is a genetic driver.