Best of 2018 Beneficiary Check Presentations

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.

SAA – Tampa at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and Moffit Cancer Center

47683900_10105851882417639_7409164850158370816_n

1

SAA – Chicago at Rush University Medical Center

IMG_8167-XL

SAA – Charlotte at Levine Cancer Institute

1

SAA – Baltimore at Johns Hopkins Medicine

unnamed-3

SAA – Atlanta at Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta 

1

SAA – Greenwich at Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy

unnamed-1

SAA – Nantucket at Nantucket Cottage Hospital 

nantucket.jpg

SAA – Seattle at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

50301948_10156426523634877_6487039731098976256_n

SAA – San Francisco at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital

51362320_10161263676190277_5530039829783379968_n

SAA – Denver at Children’s Hospital Colorado

denver.jpg

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!

Team Valerie Top Fundraiser 5.png

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

TEAM AMAZINGGRACE (2)

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!

1-2

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!

1-1

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!

1

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!

DanBenoit (2)

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.

GBunke

SAA On the Scene – November 2018

As the 2018 Open Water season comes to an end, SAA National members have been at some great events around the country spreading the SAA mission. Check them out and contact us if you have an event you’d like to have featured!

Golden Goggles Award Ceremony (New York, NY – November 19, 2018)

Swim Across America’s own and Olympian Craig Beardsley represented SAA at the 2018 Golden Goggles Awards in New York. Craig along with 4-time Olympic Medalist Maya Dirado, presented the Coach of the Year Award!

0.jpg

 

World Open Water Swimming Association Conference (San Francisco, CA – November 10, 2018)

SAA’s Director of Events Megan Melgaard and San Francisco Bay Swim Co-Event Director Susan Helmrich presented “Swimming for Good” and “Why I Swim” on behalf of Swim Across America at the WOWSA Conference held at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

 

 

Santa Barbara Pool Swim (Santa Barbara, CA – November 4, 2018)

The inaugural “SB Swims for a Cure” pool swim was held at the Los Banos del Mar Pool in Santa Barbara, California. The event doubled their fundraising goal in just it’s first year, raising over $11,400! SAA’s own Megan Melgaard and Craig Beardsley were able to attend the event and give some pointers to the swimmers! If you’re interesting in starting a pool swim contact Craig Beardsley!

 

Swim Across America Elects 2019 Officers

Nov. 15 — Swim Across America held its annual Board of Directors meeting and has re-elected Jean Fufidio, Janel McArdle, Pam Ryan, Jack Salerno, Doug Towne and Burt Zweigenhaft to 2-year terms through the Fall 2020 annual board meeting.

Board 2018 Annual Meeting
Board Members and SAA Staff at the 2018 Board Meeting

Hugh Curran was a college graduate when he and childhood friends ran across the United States to raise money for cancer research (the 1984-85 run was the inspiration to create a charity swim program that has become Swim Across America). Hugh has given unselfishly to SAA for over 30 years, including the past nine years as Board Chair. Believing the time is right for our next board leader, Hugh nominated and the board of directors unanimously elected Pam Ryan to be the chair. Pam previously served as the Secretary. Hugh was elected to be the Vice Chair and he will support Pam in the transition to the board leader. The board then elected Janel McArdle to be the Secretary and Bob Coakley was re-elected as Treasurer.

The board committee appointments are as follows:

  • Audit: Kevin Shine (Chair), Burt Zweigenhaft, Michael Agis (non-board special appointment)
  • Beneficiary: Dr. Evan Vosburgh (Chair), Janel McArdle, Rob Butcher, Amy Krakauer (staff)
  • Branding: Jack Salerno (Chair), Kimbery Wetty, Jean Fufidio, Ryan Baucom (staff)
  • Governance: Matt Vossler (Chair), Hugh Curran, Kevin Shine, Kimberly Wetty, Rob Butcher
  • Finance: Bob Coakley (Chair), Janel McArdle, Jamie Mannion, Jean Fufidio, Jedd Hall (non-board special appointment), Rich Thompkins (non-board special appointment), Rob Butcher, Amy Krakauer (staff)
  • Risk Management: Megan Melgaard (Chair), Matt Vossler, Doug Towne

Swim Across America holds two face-to-face board meetings each year; an annual meeting held at the conclusion of the charity swim season and a winter meeting held before the charity swim begins.

SAA Remembers Quinn the Leonberger

unnamed-88.jpg

It is with sadness that we inform you that the beloved Quinn the Leonberger passed shortly after the 2018 Dallas swim. Quinn and his handler Peggy Walker were participants and supporters of the Swim Across America – Dallas event from the beginning. Quinn not only attended each open water and pool swim, but he was also a magnet for the media which helped spread the word about the importance of phase 1 fundraising and the great work being done at the Swim Across America Innovative Clinical Trial Center at BaylorScott&White. He and Peggy were introduced to the swim through the Cancer Center where Quinn was a pet therapy dog. Both he and Peggy had been touched by cancer so their support and participation was only natural.  In total, Quinn raised $27,520 for the swim making him one of the event’s largest fundraisers.

His gentle spirit was a highlight for many survivors, participants and children who were usually not expecting to see a dog the size of Quinn but automatically smiled when they realize how gentle he was.

He was surrounded by his family, at home in his living room when he left. He will be deeply missed and we thank Peggy Walker for sharing him with the Swim Across America family.

 

 

MORE THAN 30 COLLEGES PARTICIPATED IN SWIM ACROSS AMERICA IN 2018

36474008274_feca72a896_k (1)

Community service is one of the best ways for college swim programs to build team chemistry and goodwill with their university. In 2018, more than 30 college programs volunteered their time by participating in a Swim Across America charity swim.

Swim Across America’s slogan is #MakingWavesToFightCancer and it does so by hosting open water charity swims. Since it’s founding in 1987, SAAs charity swim program has granted over $80 million to its mission of funding cancer research and clinical trials.

“364 days a year we compete with each other,” said Providence College head coach John O’Neill at the Swim Across America—Rhode Island charity swim. “But today, we all wear the same swim cap. We’ve all been touched by cancer and we swim in honor of survivors and those we’ve lost so that others may have hope.” John was awarded the College Swim Coaches Association of America community service award in 2016 for his support of Swim Across America.

The college programs that participated and volunteered at an SAA charity swim include Assumption College, Boston University, Bryant University, Brown University, Cal Catawba College, College of Holy Cross, Colorado School of Mines, East Carolina University, Emory, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Loyola University, Maryville University, McKendree University, Northeastern University, Penn State, Providence College, Queens University, Roger Williams University, Seattle University, SMU, St. Louis University, TCU, Truman State, Tufts University, University of California, University of Connecticut, University of Georgia, University of Idaho, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Missouri, University of Missouri – St. Louis, University of North Texas, University of Texas, Ursuline College, Villanova and Wesleyan University.

The 2019 Swim Across America calendar will include charity swims in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charleston-Kiawah, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Denver, Fairfield County (CT), Houston, Long Island, Nantucket, Nassau (NY), Richmond, Rhode Island, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis and Tampa.

Olympian Craig Beardsley heads up Swim Across America’s college program. He can be reached at craig@swimacrossamerica.org to learn more.

Swim Across America Impact: The 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine

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.

safe_image (2)

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.

You can read more about the 2018 prize here.