35 Stories of Impact: Wyatt Deaton of SAA-Tampa

Wyatt Deaton
Swim Across America – Tampa

3 years with Swim Across America
Age 11; Raised $2,526 across all participating events

“We are so proud of all Wyatt is doing to help make waves and fight cancer,” said his Mom Michelle. “Wyatt swims in honor of me – I’m a cancer thriver – and for family and friends who have lost their battle or are fighting now.” 

Wyatt Deaton was only seven years old when his Mom Michelle was diagnosed in 2018 with a rare form of breast cancer called secretory carcinoma (which actually used to be called Juvenile Carcinoma because average age this type of cancer was found was in nine year olds). But Michelle was 45 years old when diagnosed.

“‘You have CANCER’ are three words you never want to hear,” said Michelle Deaton. “And to have to tell your seven year old son that, is especially hard. Wyatt was so young, but he immediately starting thinking about what he could do to help me get better. Raising money for Swim Across America and for pediatric cancer research was the challenge he was looking for — and needed at that moment.”

Wyatt signed up to swim in the Swim Across America Tampa open water swim with Team Tampa Elite Aquatic Manta Rays, and has been swimming with them for the past three years. In addition to swimming and raising money for cancer, Wyatt is a straight A student. This year, at age 11, Wyatt has challenged himself to swim a mile in the open ocean and raise at least $2,000 (which he reached his fundraising goal at the beginning of March 2022!) He swam 1/2-mile in 2021 raising $1,500.

“We are so proud of all Wyatt is doing to help make waves and fight cancer,” said his Mom Michelle. “Wyatt swims in honor of me – I’m a cancer thriver – and for family and friends who have lost their battle or are fighting now.” 

Michelle is currently in remission and has been cancer free for three years.

Swim Across America is celebrating 35 years of impact in 2022. SAA has raised $100 million since its inception in 1987 to support cancer research and clinical trials across the U.S. Please contact Jeni Howard at jhoward@jhowardpr.com for media inquiries.

Cancer Talk With Memorial Sloan Kettering – April 4, 2022

Presented by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Swim Across America-Long Island Sound and Swim Across America-Nassau/Suffolk

A special thank you to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), Swim Across America-Nassau/Suffolk and Swim Across America-Long Island Sound for hosting the Swim Across America community in a vibrant panel discussion amongst the young investigators whose groundbreaking research is funded by SAA grants. 

Please find the full video recording here: https://vimeo.com/697137232.

Cancer Conversations: Immunotherapy Breakthroughs – March 30, 2022

Presented by Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy

Thank you to SAA-Fairfield County and Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT) for hosting Cancer Conversation on Breakthroughs in Immunotherapy with ACGT research fellows funded by Swim Across America – Fairfield County, Dr. Crystal Mackall of Stanford University, and Dr. Brian Brown of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. They are both cancer scientist rockstars in their field.

Please find the recorded video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctv0hc0jKsE

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 Awards $5.8M in Grants

“There is HOPE” – that’s what every patient should hear after the words “you have cancer…”

Thank you for your contributions to Swim Across America – because of you, patients and their families do have hope. For 2022, we have granted $5.8M to more than fifty research, clinical trial, and patient programs. You can learn more about our grant programs here.

The story below is one of the many that captures the impact of Swim Across America, and how your donations provide hope.

Rick Osterberg and his wife Jessica Stokes, joined Swim Across America – Boston in 2009. In 2018, Rick was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. After a very difficult year of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, Rick and Jessica celebrated Rick’s clean scans. Unfortunately, in 2020, Rick’s cancer returned. Two weeks prior to discovering the recurrence, an immunotherapy treatment was approved by the FDA to treat Rick’s type of colon cancer. Fortunately, Rick qualified for this more targeted treatment – it has allowed him to have a better quality of life. Nearly a year and a half after starting immunotherapy, Rick’s scans continue to be very encouraging, and he experiences no side effects.

Swim Across America grant funding played a significant role in the FDA approval of several immunotherapy treatments, including the one Rick is receiving. Since our inception in 1987, Swim Across America has granted more than $100 million in grants leading to advances in immunotherapy, screening and detection methods, patient programs, and helping to pioneer personalized medicine.

On behalf of Rick and Jessica, and so many others you have helped, thank you for your generosity. We look forward to seeing you and learning your story as we #MakeWavesToFightCancer. You can view our schedule and learn more at swimacrossamerica.org

With gratitude,

Rob Butcher
Swim Across America | CEO

Support Swim Across America with a Qualified Charitable Distribution from your IRA:

Make Waves to Fight Cancer while satisfying your required minimum distribution.

What is a QCD?

A qualified charitable distribution (QCD) is a distribution of funds from your IRA (excluding an ongoing SEP or SIMPLE IRA) directly to a qualified charitable organization, such as Swim Across America. Since the gift goes directly to the qualified charity without passing through your hands, the dollar amount of the donation may be excluded from your taxable income up to a maximum of $100,000 annually, with some exceptions. Please consult your tax advisor for information regarding your specific exceptions.

To learn more about QCDs, visit IRS.gov

Am I eligible to make a QCD?

If you are 70.5 years or older, you can make tax-free gifts to Swim Across America of up to $100,000 from your IRA. Your donation will count toward your minimum required distribution.

How do I make a QCD to Swim Across America?

Contact your IRA custodian and request a direct transfer to:

Swim Across America, Inc.
8508 Park Road #389 Charlotte, NC 28210
Tax ID number: 22-3248256

Do not withdraw the funds and make a contribution yourself, or you will have to report the withdrawal as taxable income. If you are requesting the transfer at the end of the tax year, allow enough time for the transfer to complete by December 31. 

Please note: we are not in a position to give formal tax advice, and we strongly advise you to have these gifts reviewed by your own qualified financial or tax advisors.

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

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.