Swim Across America Awards $5.6 Million in Grants for 2019

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.

SAA Congratulate the Top Fundraisers of 2018

We are excited to recognize some extra special people – our Top Swim Across America Team and Individual Fundraisers of 2018. These people pushed their fundraising efforts to make the biggest waves in their communities when it comes to fighting cancer. 

Top 5 Fundraising Teams

5. Team Valerie – $141,287 (SAA – Long Island Sound)

The team surpassed their goal this year and raised $141,287 to fight cancer with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian and Cancer Support Team! Great job #MakingWaves in your community, Team Valerie!

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4. Team Amazing Grace + Take That Benedict – $155,722 (SAA – Atlanta)

Team Amazing Grace + Take That Benedict which raised $155,722 for Swim Across America – Atlanta benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The team was formed in honor of 2 sarcoma patients – Grace and Julie. One of the highlights of the SAA – Atlanta swim this year was Vicki Corte Bunke and Dr. Karen Wasilewski (pictured) swimming to honor Grace’s memory! #amazinggrace

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3. Team Julian – $169,731 (SAA – Greenwich-Stamford)

Team Julian from Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford! The team took a big fundraising leap from last year and raised $169,731 for Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT)! Way to go, Team Julian!

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2. Team Susan Survives – $171,431 (SAA – San Francisco Bay)

Team Susan Survives from Swim Across America – San Francisco Bay! The team hit their record high raising $171,431 this year to support UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco! Team Susan Survives is captained by SAA – San Francisco’s very own Co-Event Director and cancer survivor Susan Helmrich! The team has raised over $768,000 to support cancer research and patient care since 2011!

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1. Team Stacey – $249,103 (SAA – Nassau-Suffolk)

Congratulations to our Top Fundraising Team of 2018: Team Stacey from Swim Across America – Nassau – Suffolk! The team raised $249,103 to support Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Feinstein Institute Northwell Health! Team Stacey celebrated its 10th Anniversary of participating in SAA – Sound to Cove this year and is the Top Fundraising Team for the second year in a row! The team was formed in memory of Stacey Rose Leondis and has raised over $1.1 million for cancer research, treatment, and prevention! Way to Make (BIG) Waves to Fight Cancer, Team Stacey!

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Top 5 Individual Fundraisers

5. Dan Benoit – $36,593 (SAA – Seattle)

Dan Benoit raised $36,593 for SAA – Seattle’s 10th Anniversary this year! Dan has been involved with Swim Across America – Seattle for 3 years after his son, Matt formed Team Benoit while undergoing treatments at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. He has raised over $120,000 since 2016 to support immunotherapy clinical trials and cancer research Seattle Cancer Care Alliance! Way to #makewavestofightcancer, Dan!

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4. Steven Lurie – $39,107 (SAA – San Francisco Bay)

Our 4th Top Fundraiser of 2018: Steven Lurie from Swim Across America – San Francisco Bay! Steven participated in his first SAA- San Francisco Bay swim last year and was the #1 Fundraiser of 2017. He got involved after his son, Seth was diagnosed with a rare cancer at the age of three! Steven has raised over $90,000 in just two years to support UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital where his son was treated and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland!

Steven Lurie Top Fundraiser 2018

3. Mark McCooey – $52,830 (SAA – Long Island Sound)

Shoutout to our #3 Top Fundraiser: Mark McCooey from SAA – Long Island Sound! Mark raised $52,830 this year to support Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian and Cancer Support Team! Mark has been participating in SAA – Long Island Sound for the past 17 years as a part of Team Clare, named after his late cousin, Clare Reynolds. Team Clare has raised over $1M since its inception! Thanks for continuing to join us in this fight against cancer, Mark! We look forward to seeing you #makewavestofightcancer again next year!

Mark McCooey Top Fundraiser 2018

2. Tony Sibio – $101,917 (SAA – Long Island Sound)

Our #2 Top Fundraiser of 2018 is our very own SAA – Long Island Sound Event Director, Tony Sibio! Tony raised $101,917 this year to support Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian and Cancer Support Team! His family has been involved with SAA – Long Island Sound from the very beginning after his son was diagnosed with cancer and treated at New York-Presbyterian. Thank you for all that you do, Tony and way to go on being the second highest fundraiser this year!

Tony Sibio Top Fundraiser 2018

1. Grace Bunke – $119,579 (SAA – Atlanta)

We are honored to announce our #1 overall fundraiser of 2018 is ‘Amazing’ Grace Bunke of SAA – Atlanta. Grace’s fundraising totaled $119,579 this year benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where she was treated. Grace Bunke was one of the top national fundraisers and SAA – Atlanta’s number one fundraiser in 2017. One of her final wishes was to be the top national fundraiser for Swim Across America in 2018. In completing this goal, she continues to inspire not only the Atlanta community but all of us at Swim Across America.

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Swim Across America Honored at the Value-Based Cancer Care Summit

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Olympians Craig Beardsley, Rowdy Gaines and Steve Lundquist

The 8th annual Value Based Cancer Care Summit brought together more than 300 thought leaders in academic, government, pharmaceutical and biotech. Change and innovation are happening at a fast pace in the field of healthcare and especially oncology. The purpose of the two-day summit was to create an active dialogue among the stakeholders in oncology care that ultimately will improve the quality of patient care.

Swim Across America, which has granted over $80 million dollars into cancer research, clinical trials and prevention, was selected as the beneficiary for the summit. Several of the oncologists shared during panel discussions the importance of Swim Across America’s early stage grant funding and how SAA’s funding has helped lead to breakthroughs and FDA approvals of new immunotherapy treatments.

In a personal testimonial, Dr. Jedd Wolchok of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center eloquently shared that SAA grant funding has helpeIMG_0279.JPGd numerous young investigators move forward their research ideas, many of whom are immigrants and are the pioneers in immunotherapy and personalized medicine.

Olympian and SAA ambassador Rowdy Gaines attended the summit giving a keynote talk about the 1980 Olympic boycott and how he persevered against the odds to win three gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic games. Rowdy also shared how cancer has touched his life, losing his stepfather and sister to the disease.

The evening reception was attended by the Swim Across America Board of Directors, Olympians Steve Lundquist and Craig Beardsley, and the leaders from our SAA-Long Island Sound and SAA-Fairfield County charity swims. The reception was dedicated to Swim Across America as we shared stories from survivors, volunteers, and participants.

It was an honor for Swim Across America contributions to be recognized and it was meaningful to be part of these important discussions as we strengthened our relationships and lifted our goodwill.

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