Colorado Community Makes Waves to Benefit Children’s Hospital Colorado

Picture a sunny and warm mid-August morning in Colorado. Retired Olympians such as Missy Franklin and George DiCarlo are smiling with water enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. They enter the water of Chatfield Reservoir in Littleton to “Make Waves to Fight Cancer” with the Swim Across America-Denver charity swim. There’s a sense of community as supporters and family cheer for them. Not because they’ll be racing for first place, rather because they’re all there to raise money that will provide grants for pediatric cancer at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Created in 2018, Swim Across America-Denver has granted $545,917 to research projects at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Colorado. Uniquely, all the proceeds from Swim Across America-Denver stay in our community to fund research projects at Children’s Colorado where philanthropic grants from Swim Across America are necessary to make progress in giving hope to kids and their families who are fighting cancer. Here are the projects that are being funded by SAA:

  • The acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) research project, led by Drs. Amanda Winters, Taizo Nakano, and Craig Forester, aimed at bringing new therapies into phase II of clinical trials for pediatric MDS and AML to better define how to diagnose, classify and treat MDS patients.
  • The tumor research project, led by Dr. Adam Green, which will characterize the immune response to new brain tumors to better establish which types are amenable to cancer immunotherapy and provide a new prognostic marker for these diseases.
  • The sepsis biomarker project, led by Dr. Leonora Slatnick, will lead to novel ways of diagnosing and managing infectious complications in immunosuppressed patients.
  • The CAR-T Cell project, led by Dr. Lindsey Murphy and collaborating with Dr. Winters and members of the BMT-Cellular Therapeutics team, aims to use novel laboratory methods for detecting CAR-T cells in patients receiving those therapies to better understand how patients respond to these therapies and improve cure rates.

“With [Swim Across America grants] we’re building the largest national database on pediatric myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) to collect data on all of the past and future children with this life-threatening disorder. SAA’s contribution will help encourage research collaboration at over 50 children’s hospitals to enter data that will help develop a national standards-of-practice to treat pediatric MDS,” said Taizo Nakano, MD.

Grants from SAA will also be used to fund site initiation of a nationwide clinical trial for pediatric MDS at Children’s Colorado and will also be critical for Dr. Forester and Dr. Winters as they investigate the biological activity of the drug combination being tested.

“This will allow us to understand why the drugs work for pediatric MDS and perhaps enable us to predict at diagnosis which children with MDS are more or less likely to benefit from these drugs,” said Amanda Winters, MD.

“We welcome and invite our Colorado community to join us,” said Nicole Vanderpoel and Jessica Vitcenda, community leaders for SAA—Denver. “You can swim, volunteer or do a virtual activity with all the proceeds staying in Denver to benefit Children’s Colorado.”

Learn more about SAA-Denver and how you can get involved by visiting Swim Across America – Denver.  

Swim Across America Debuts Team Captain Package with SAA Hat

Swim Across America is excited to celebrate our team captains this year by introducing a team captain package! Once you register your team, you’ll receive the package in the mail that includes a new SAA baseball cap (pictured) and resources to be successful.

We hope you’ll be signing up to lead a team again this year and receiving one soon! There is also a new Team Captain Corner page on the website, where you can find everything from email templates to use with your teammates and donors, to online tools and social media resources. You can check out the page at www.swimacrossamerica.org/captains.

Register your team today and start recruiting!

 

SAA Debuts WaveMaker Cooler Bag for 2022

Swim Across America is excited to celebrate our top fundraisers with the 2022 WaveMaker gift of a Backpack Cooler for participants and volunteers that raise $1,000 or more!

As part of the WaveMaker club, we want you to show your SAA pride year-round with a cooler perfect for any occasion. The 20 can cooler bag is light, durable and heat sealed with gray PEVA lining. It features a padded back panel and comfortable backpack straps for easy carrying or grab and go with the removable, adjustable shoulder strap with shoulder pad. Want to take this awesome item home with you? Register today and set your fundraising goal to WaveMaker!

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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

Olympian Elizabeth Beisel Makes History as First Woman to Complete 10.4-Mile Marathon Ocean Swim to Block Island

“Block Cancer” Charity Swim Honors Father’s Dying Wish, Raises Over $135K for Cancer Research and Patient Programs

BLOCK ISLAND, R.I., September 26, 2021 — On September 25th, three-time Olympian and 2016 Team USA Captain Elizabeth Beisel overcame two weather-related postponements and fought through a finish-line riptide to make 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 the nonprofit 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 $135,000.

​​“I’m humbled and honored to have completed this Block Cancer swim,” said Elizabeth. “As a child growing up in Rhode Island and swimming in the ocean along our beautiful coastline, I always dreamed of swimming to Block Island. I envisioned my dad on the island waiting for me to finish with an ear-to-ear grin on his face — how proud he would be that I made it. Sadly, he passed before I could make this swim, but he knew I was going to do it and that helped sustain him during his final months. I’ll never get to hug him again, but his fight wasn’t for nothing. I know that my dad’s 

battle, along with the money raised by Block Cancer, will save someone’s life one day. He is smiling knowing we helped give someone and their family the most precious gift of all time.”

“Elizabeth has been supporting Swim Across America for many years, even before her father’s diagnosis, so this was our opportunity to support her,” noted Rob Butcher, CEO of Swim Across America. “Our cancer researchers will use the Block Cancer funds for science and patient care that will hopefully save someone’s life in the future.”

​​Elizabeth entered the water at Matunuck Beach by Ocean Mist, her father’s favorite restaurant, and swam the 10.4 miles to the northeast tip of Block Island in 5 hours and 19 minutes. Her mom Joannie and brother Danny greeted Elizabeth with an emotional hug when she reached Block Island.

The on-water safety crew for Elizabeth’s swim included two veteran kayakers, two escort boats, Atlantic Shark Institute executive director Jon Dodd, Marathon Swimmers Federation observer and marathon swimmer Elaine Howley, SAA CEO Rob Butcher, Olympian Craig Beardsley, and family friends Jack Nichting and Stephanie Cotsonas.

Donations and merchandise are available at blockcancer.org.

Swim Across America, Inc. (SAA) is dedicated to raising money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment through swimming-related events. Founded in 1987, Swim Across America has raised more than $100 million to support cancer research and clinical trials. With the help of hundreds of volunteers nationwide and Olympians, Swim Across America is helping find a cure for cancer through athleticism, community outreach and direct service. To learn more visit  swimacrossamerica.org or follow on Facebook @swimacrossamerica and Instagram and Twitter @SAASwim.

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Contact: Jenifer Howard | 203-273-4246

jhoward@jhowardpr.com

‘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.

New Swim Across America Participant Center is Live

Swim Across America now features a new Participant Center created to make fundraising easier for all participants, whether you are a swimmer, volunteer or SAA My Way participant. Get registered at swimacrossamerica.org and check out these new features when you are logged in:

  • The Participant Center has a new design as well as mobile-responsive functionality
  • The new email interface simplifies email sending while maintaining your organizational styles with suggested message templates. Participants will never lose their work again thanks to the new “autosave” of draft messages in the email editor!
  • PC3’s new “Profile View” allows supporters to do more “self service” updates –they can edit their own profile (constituent record), privacy preferences, and change their password–all within the Participant Center. Participants also have the power to join a team after registration.
  • The photo upload tool now includes a preview option that automatically zooms to the required 300×400 dimensions and allows the participant to zoom or rotate the photo.
  • SAA My Way participants will be able to use the Activity Tracker and upload inspiring photos of their progress

If you have questions about the new Participant Center – you can consult our Support Page with Frequently Asked Questions about the Center.

SAA Debuts WaveMaker Cooler Bag for 2022

Swim Across America is excited to celebrate our 35th anniversary in 2022 with a Swim Across America WaveMaker gift of 20 can backpack cooler for participants and volunteers that raise $1,000 or more!

As part of the WaveMaker club, we want you to show your SAA pride year-round with a cooler perfect for any occasion. The 20 can cooler bag is light, durable and heat sealed with gray PEVA lining. It features a padded back panel and comfortable backpack straps for easy carrying or grab and go with the removable, adjustable shoulder strap with shoulder pad. Want to take this awesome item home with you? Register today and set your fundraising goal to WaveMaker!

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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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