11-Year Old Surprises Cancer Survivor Dad in a Special Way

11-Year-Old Owen Johnson wanted to give his dad a unique gift over the holidays. He decided to set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to raise money for MUSC Hollings Cancer Center in honor of his dad. Cancer survivor and SAA-Charleston-Kiawah Event Director Brad Johnson was both shocked and humbled to find out that Owen chose to do this on his own and had raised over $2,000 so far!

On the GoFundMe page Owen writes: “I am raising money for cancer research at Hollings Cancer Center because my dad had two types of cancer. One they still haven’t identified the type. I hope by raising money, it will help them figure out what that type of cancer was and enable them to learn how to better treat people with cancer.”

What started as a fundraiser idea over the holidays has now turned into a year long mission for Owen. He plans to keep fundraising and to participate in the 5th annual SAA-Charleston-Kiawah charity swim on August 15!

If you feel inclined to support Owen, you may do so here: www.swimacrossamerica.org/goto/owenjohnson!

Swim Across America Honors Teams in Times Square with Clear Channel Outdoor


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We appreciate the teams that have given so much heart and soul to supporting the Swim Across America cause that we are using our public service message with Clear Channel Outdoor to recognize them in Times Square. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for #MakingWavesToFightCancer with us. And if you are inspired to help others, find a charity swim near you at swimacrossamerica.org. Thanks to the Clear Channel Outdoor team for supporting the Swim Across America mission on the largest scale! You can read about more about the partnership here.

Times Square Details: The 1-minute ad ran in February 2021. The two screens stand 100 feet tall combined  –  55′ H x 31′ W and 44′ H x 44′ W and the location was adjacent to Duffy Square and the TKTS on Broadway between 46th and 47th Streets.

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FULL VIDEO

What’s in Your SAA My Way Swag Bag?

SAA My Way is our new virtual offering where you decide your activity and timeline to help us fight cancer. After you get registered with a $50 self-donation, we’ll send you an SAA Swag Bag to show off your spirit and set you up for #SAAMyWay success. (Note: this virtual participation type is for those that don’t plan on swimming at an SAA open water swim.)

Here’s what you can expect in the mail shortly after you register:

1. Swim Across America Shirt

Enjoy the softest tri-blend around with the popular Swim Across America shirt in the size you select at registration.

2. SAA My Way Toolkit

Learn everything you need to know about how to pick an activity or challenge and how to share and inspire to make sure your fundraising makes the biggest impact!

3. SAA VINYL CAR STICKER & BUTTON

Show your love on your car, laptop, backpack or jacket with the sticker and button we’ll be sending to help you spread the word about SAA!

SIGN UP FOR SAA MY WAY TODAY!

The Holidays Come Early With #GivingTuesday and Swim Across America

What better way to make someone feel special this holiday season than making a difference in the fight against cancer in their name and providing them with a special treat! Swim Across America is making it easy for you to do so this Giving Tuesday!

Here’s how it works:

1. MAKE A DONATION

Donate $100 or more by #GivingTuesday (deadline of December 1st). Select a friend or family member to honor with your gift.

2. We Send a HOLIDAY GIFT

Your friend receives a holiday gift filled with chocolates and a card letting them know of your thoughtful donation.

3. YOUR IMPACT

Your donation helps Swim Across America fund cancer research. Your friend will appreciate the goodwill of your gesture.

LIMITED SUPPLY  – ORDER NOW FOR HOLIDAYS!

Looking for a Role Model? Meet 17-Year Old Alyssa Corb

March 9th is a special day for Alyssa Corb. It’s the date of birth of her brother Michael. Tragically, Michael didn’t make it to his first birthday as he died from mixed lineage leukemia when he was a 9-months old. For the past 10-years, Alyssa has been registering for Swim Across America—Baltimore on March 9th. In her words, it’s the “perfect way to honor my brother.”

Brother JD, sister Sarah, mom Jenn and Alyssa. The family participates as Team Racing Against Cancer swimming each year in Swim Across America-Baltimore at High Tide Farm.

Alyssa entered her first Swim Across America–Baltimore charity swim when she was 8-years old swimming a mile with her mom Jennifer. She hasn’t missed a year since celebrating a decade of raising more than $140,000 for Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.

Brother Michael and Alyssa.

Many of Alyssa’s friends from her club soccer and club swimming teams have been so inspired, that they have joined her in giving back. And now Alyssa participates in Swim Across America—Baltimore with her 13-year old brother JD and 10-year old sister Sarah. On her personal page, Alyssa shares stories and why she is so passionate about the cause.

Alyssa Corb at Swim Across America-Baltimore

Next summer, Alyssa graduates from Mt. Hebron High School in Maryland. While she hasn’t yet selected a college, she hopes to play soccer in college. As for what she might want to major, Alyssa says “I want to be a high school math teacher.”

“She will change the world” is an expression we use when we see someone with so much potential. It’s not an understatement to declare that Alyssa Corb has already made the world better and will continue to do so.

Alyssa swims to honor loved ones.

2020 Swim Across America Highlights: Tyler Roethke and Grant Wentworth Swim the Vineyard Sound and Raise over $100,000

In 2020, Swim Across America transitioned from open water swims to fun and exciting virtual challenges in each city. We’re highlighting some of the best ‘Making Waves to Fight Cancer’ stories with Swim Across America this year!

On August 8th, 2020, Swim Across America Nantucket participants Tyler Roethke and Grant Wentworth took their personal challenge to a whole new level by swimming a 10K crossing of the Vineyard Sound! These two accomplished this challenging swim in just under 2 hours and together have raised over $100,000 to support Nantucket Cottage Hospital and Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket – simply AMAZING! Way to go Grant and Tyler! Check out these awesome shots captured by photographer Tom Olcott! If you’d like to support these two outstanding SAA swimmers you can do so by going to swimacrossamerica.org/goto/GrantWentworth & swimacrossamerica.org/goto/TylerRoethke.

A Story of Purpose, Grit, and Humanity

I have a story. It’s a story of purpose, grit, and humanity. It’s the kind of story that becomes a movie.

In 1984, a team of childhood friends lead by cancer survivor Jeff Keith ran across the United States. The run took nine months. The team faced challenge after challenge. It tested their human spirit. Incredibly (in a time of no internet or e-mail) they raised $1M for cancer research.

Matt Vossler was part of the run. In 1987, Matt was inspired to do more for the cancer community. So he created a charity swim across Long Island Sound. The beginning of a movement was born. A movement that would pioneer new and lifesaving options for cancer patients. Swim Across America’s movement has grown to charity swims in more than 20 communities. But Swim Across America’s ability to make an impact for cancer research and support programs is because of your generosity.

Donations from you have directly lead to breakthroughs to fighting cancer. Cancer is now being treated with immunotherapy, personalized medicine and gene therapy. Treatments that we’ve been funding with your donations. Treatments in 1987 that weren’t available. Doctors are now telling families, “there is hope.” And you are part of the story.

Your donations have given families the most precious gift. The gift of time. The gift of more time to celebrate birthdays, to attend weddings, and pass on family values.

Any other year, we’d be planning to see you at a charity swim. Circumstances required we come up with a new program for 2020. We hope you will join our Swim Across America Challenge. Publish your SAA Challenge on social and tag @SAASwim. We’re watching with anticipation and want to share your story.

We hope you will invite others to participate. Anyone can do any activity for their Swim Across America Challenge. See our communities and join the one that best fits your interest.

Our Swim Across America founders believe humanity shines when we help others. And helping others is what you do by supporting Swim Across America.

We humbly say thank you.

Rob Butcher
Swim Across America | CEO

Swim Across America Awards $120,000 in Cancer Grants

Swim Across America has partnered with the American Society of Clinical Oncology and American Association for Cancer Research to award two $60,000 grants to young investigators that represent the next generation of cancer oncologists. ASCO and AACR are the two leading professional organizations that serve the oncology community.

Dr. Chemtai Mungo

Dr. Chemtai Mungo of UC San Francisco is the recipient of the Conquer Cancer-Swim Across America Young Investigator Award. Dr. Mungo has received a $60,000 grant that will allow her to provide cervical cancer prevention among HIV-positive women. Dr. Mungo describes her personal story, growing up in rural Kenya, as one of inequality that has been a challenge and an inspiration.

Dr. Manisha Jalan

Dr. Manisha Jalan of Memorial Sloan Kettering is the recipient of the AACR-Swim Across America Cancer Research Fellowship. Dr. Jalan has received a $60,000 grant to develop a high throughput assay to test if DNA breaks can be repaired using alternative template other than DNA, to ensure genome stability. Genome instability, especially in breast and ovarian cancer, has long been considered the primary driver of most cancer types.

Dr. Mungo and Dr. Jalan will be honored October 15th at the Value Based Cancer Summit. The Summit is a think tank of academic, industry and business leaders committed to improving cancer care while improving access for patients. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, past FDA-Commissioner, is the keynote speaker. Swim Across America is the official charity supported by the Association for Value-Based Cancer Care.

SAA – San Francisco’s Susan Helmrich Interviews “Why We Swim” Author Bonnie Tsui in Virtual Conversation

 

Swim Across America – San Francisco Event Director and cancer survivor Susan Helmrich will be interviewing “Why We Swim” author Bonnie Tsui in a Zoom Conversation this Wednesday, June 3rd. Topics will include all things swimming, community and the reasons “why we swim.” Susan Helmrich has been the Event Director for SAA – San Francisco for 13 years and her “Team Susan Survives” is consistently a top national fundraising team for Swim Across America.

Susan has been a member of U.S. Masters Swimmers for decades and a daily swimmer for most of her life — except during her three bouts with cancer. An epidemiologist, she has studied how over-the-counter and prescription medications affect women’s health and the effects of physical activity on health and well-being” says Berkeley City Club, the host of the virtual conversation.

Both women are avid swimmers and excited to talk about what draws them to the water and what they love about swimming. The Zoom Conversation will take place on Wednesday, June 3rd at 7:00 p.m. PST (10:00 p.m. EST). Swimmers and non-swimmers alike are invited to participate. RSVP here: sydneyc@swimacrossamerica.org.

 

 

Making Waves with Hope: “Uncertainty and Adversity” with Craig Beardsley and Rowdy Gaines

Hope Header2Making Waves with Hope is a series of inspiring messages by leaders in the Swim Across America community. Olympians Rowdy Gaines and Craig Beardsley had earned their spots on the 1980 USA Olympic Team when uncertainty struck. The US boycotted the 1980 Olympics and in an instant, the dreams of both—and hundreds of others—were washed away. Fast forward three decades to the postponement of the 2020 Olympics. Rowdy and Craig offer their wisdom to dealing with uncertain moments. Rowdy and Craig were guests on “Pitch The Rhino” podcast. Give it a listen here: bit.ly/PTRPodcastCR.

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Craig Beardsley on Recovering From What You Can’t Control:

“One of the things that I learned from what happened in 1980, and this is a life lesson for me, was that I did everything I was supposed to do getting ready for ‘80, and then things changed. And I learned that sometimes you can do everything you’re supposed to do but sometimes things are just out of your control. That happens in life. And when that happens you have to just learn how to recover from that and move forward.”

Rowdy Gaines on Current Athletes Finding Motivation Despite Postponements:  

“The most important thing is our health and wellbeing. So, these decisions that came down were the right decisions, it doesn’t make it any easier. It’s just like in 1980, at the time I felt like, ‘Okay I’m going to support my country’ and it felt like the boycott was the best way to answer the Russians that had invaded Afghanistan, but I didn’t like it. It still was devastating. It still hurt me. And I think that it’s okay to be vulnerable right now. I think it’s okay for these athletes to feel anger, the emotions of going through denial first, and then anger, and then sadness and depression, and then acceptance. And sooner or later you’re going to have that acceptance and be able to move on. And it will make you stronger, it will, I guarantee you at the very best it will make them stronger, because in the end, after acceptance for me, was motivation.”

Craig Beardsley on Being Your Best and Obstacles:

When they announced the boycott, I wasn’t the world record holder at the time, I still had something to prove to myself more than anybody else that I could be the best. So I didn’t allow that to derail me as much as maybe some of the other people. I just felt compelled that I still had to prove something, to everybody and myself that I could be the best, and that I trained for that, and I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way of being the best at this point.”

Craig Beardsley’s Advice on Training and Focus:

“Something that I learned directly from experience is if you’re training and all you’re doing is training, try to have something else in your life that you can focus on. And not just fun stuff, but something that you actually have to focus on that you can remove yourself from the sport because it will help you and it will give you room to breathe, and you’ll look at the sport with fresh eyes instead of getting burned out by it.”

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BIOS

Craig Beardsley was heavily favored to win the 200m butterfly as a member of the 1980 Olympic Team, only to be forced from competition when politics intervened, and the US boycotted Moscow’s Summer Games. Between 1980 and 1983, Craig held both the World and the American Records in the 200m butterfly, and he won Gold at the Pan American Games in both 1979 and 1983. A nine-time US National Champion, Craig captured another Gold in the same event at the NCAA Championships while an All-American at the University of Florida. Beardsley is currently the Swim Across America Director of Partnerships. 

“Rowdy” Gaines  held 11 World Records during a four-year span in the 1980s. At the age of 25, Gaines won three Gold Medals in the 1984 Games in L.A., including the 100m free in which he set a new Olympic Record, .45 seconds shy of his own World Record. Rowdy also swam on the Gold-Medal winning 400m free and 400m medley relays, both which set World Records. In 1984, he was named World Swimmer of the Year. During his education at Auburn, Rowdy was a five-time NCAA All-American and honored as the Southeastern Conference Athlete of the Year. In 1996, Gaines became NBC’s Olympic Games Swimming Commentator, filling that role in all Olympics and major competitions since. Gaines has also been an Olympic Ambassador from Swim Across America since our organization’s inaugural swim in 1987.