BLOCK CANCER: Inspiring Photos of Olympian Elizabeth Beisel’s Historic Swim

On September 25th, three-time Olympian and 2016 Team USA Captain Elizabeth Beisel made history as the first woman to swim the 10.4 miles from mainland Rhode Island to Block Island. She undertook this open-water challenge as a fundraiser for Swim Across America (SAA) to benefit cancer research and patient programs in honor of her father, Charles “Ted” Lyons Beisel, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in July. To date this charity swim has raised over $163,000.

Thanks to photographer Cate Brown, we have some great images to share from that historic day below.

More information is still available at blockcancer.org.

Swim Across America – Charleston-Kiawah Researcher Awarded 5-Year NCI Grant

Swim Across America is proud to share that MUSC Hollings Cancer Center researcher Haizhen (Jen) Wang, Ph.D., has been awarded a five-year $344,000 per year grant by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to pursue her early investigator studies in leukemia. Prior to receiving NCI funding, Dr. Wang’s research was supported by $65,000 in grants from the Swim Across America – Charleston-Kiawah charity swim held annually at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

Swim Across America helps fill the funding void by providing grants so doctors can conduct clinical trials and research that can lead to breakthroughs in detection and treatment. When this funding leads to larger grants like Dr. Wang’s with the NCI, it’s a win not only for future patients but for all Swim Across America participants, donors and beneficiary partners.

According to the Hollings website, Dr. Wang’s research “focuses on uncovering the connection between cancer metabolism and cancer immunology. Her research has shown that a molecule called cyclin-dependent kinase 6 (CDK6) may be a key regulatory molecule in cancers such as leukemia.” The grant funding has already started this year and allows Dr. Wang to add research team members. The grant also has the unique option to extend two more years.

SAA-Charleston-Kiawah has supported MUSC Hollings Cancer Center since 2019 and has welcomed Dr. Wang, her family and other members of the Hollings team to participate in our annual charity swim.

To learn more about the impact or donate, please visit swimacrossamerica.org/kiawah

‘WaveMakers’ Docu-Series about Swim Across America Premieres July 8 to Share Stories of Hope in the Fight Against Cancer

Grammy Award-Winner John Driskell Hopkins of the Zac Brown Band Contributes Theme Song ‘I’ll Take You Home’  and Provides Narration for ‘WaveMakers’

CHARLOTTE, July 1, 2021 — Every 15 minutes, 50 Americans are diagnosed with cancer. That’s close to 1.9 million new cases of cancer diagnosed just this year with an estimated 600,000 cancer deaths. But those statistics don’t tell the whole story. Within someone’s cancer journey, there are remarkable stories. Stories of triumph, stories of courage, stories of pioneers and stories of heartbreak that inspire.

WaveMakers is a new docu-series about Swim Across America, produced by Browning Production & Entertainment, and airing on the Discovery Life Network beginning July 8 at 8:00 p.m. (EST). It is a six-episode series that shares the stories of patients, survivors, family members, oncologists, swimmers, volunteers and Olympians who are all striving to make waves in the fight against cancer.  

“WaveMakers showcases the Swim Across America community that is changing the face of cancer,” noted Rob Butcher, CEO of Swim Across America. “Our grants have led to breakthrough treatments such as immunotherapy that are saving lives. WaveMakers is a beautiful showcase of stories, and how the disease changes lives. We hope that viewers will be inspired and in watching WaveMakers know that there is hope.”

Grammy Award-winning Zac Brown Band-member John Driskell Hopkins wrote the theme song “I’ll Take you Home” for WaveMakers and provides the voice-over for the six episodes.

“I wrote ‘I’ll Take You Home’ to honor our family friend Grace Bunke, who sadly lost her life to osteosarcoma, and inspire her mother Vicki who is carrying on Grace’s legacy through Swim Across America to help others,” said John Driskell Hopkins. “I’m honored to be part of the story that brings a message of hope to so many.” 

WaveMakers six-part docu-series will air for six weeks on Discovery Life Network. The first episode will air July 8 at 8 p.m., (EST). The trailer and broadcast schedule with show titles are available at wavemakers.tv.

Episode 1: July 8th; A 14-year old with osteosarcoma patient inspires a movement

Episode 2: July 15th; A mom honors her daughter’s legacy

Episode 3: July 22; Olympians and survivors inspiring each other

Episode 4: July 29; Why is it so hard to cure cancer?

Episode 5: August 5; When will cancer finally be cured?

Episode 6: August 12; A family overcomes heartbreak to find purpose with Swim Across America

Media Inquiries: Jenifer Howard | 203-273-4246 jhoward@jhowardpr.com

About Swim Across America: Swim Across America (SAA) is dedicated to raising money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment through swimming-related charity events. Founded in 1987, Swim Across America has granted more than $100 million that has funded cancer research and clinical trials. With the help of volunteers nationwide and Olympians, Swim Across America grants have been at the forefront of leading to new treatments in immunotherapy and gene therapy. To learn more visit swimacrossamerica.org or follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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


Background:
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