‘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.

2020 Swim Across America Highlights: Douglas Whitlock Bicycles from Chicago to St. Louis

This year, when Swim Across America pivoted from open water swims to virtual challenges, people have been finding all kinds of fun and creative ways to support Swim Across America and cancer research in their community. We’re highlighting some of the best ‘Making Waves to Fight Cancer’ stories with Swim Across America in 2020!

Douglas Whitlock, Swim Across America – St. Louis participant and partner at Sandberg Phoenix, one of SAA-St. Louis’s official sponsors, took his SAA -Coast to Coast Challenge to whole new level by bicycling from Grant Park in Chicago all the way to The Gateway Arch in St. Louis – a bike ride that is over 300 miles! Not only did he complete the journey, he and his team raised over $13,000 for groundbreaking cancer research and clinical trials at Siteman Cancer Center along the way! Congratulations to Doug for finishing such a challenging journey and for inspiring us all.

Swim Across America Awards a Record $6 Million in Grants to Fight Cancer for 2020

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In 1987, an inaugural charity swim was hosted across Long Island Sound that raised $5,000 for cancer research. Since then, Swim Across America charity swims have granted nearly $100M that has funded innovative cancer research and clinical trials. Swim Across America grants have played a major role in the development of immunotherapy, detection, gene therapy and personalized medicine. The impact is that families who hear “you have cancer” are more than ever hearing “there is hope.”

In 2020, Swim Across America will be awarding a record $6 million in cancer research grants that will fund more than 50 projects and programs at the following beneficiaries: Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (Connecticut), Baylor Scott & White Sammons Cancer Center (Dallas), Cancer Support Team (Westchester, NY), RUSH University Medical Center (Chicago), Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (New York), Columbia University Medical Center (New York), Dana- Farber Cancer Institute (Boston), Feinstein Institute for Medical Research (New York), Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center (Charleston), Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center (Baltimore), Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital (Tampa), Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute (Charlotte), MassGeneral Hospital for Children (Boston), MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York), Moffitt Cancer Center (Tampa), Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Palliative and Support Care of Nantucket, Siteman Cancer Center (St. Louis), Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, UC Benioff Children’s Hospitals (San Francisco and Oakland), Children’s Hospital Colorado (Denver), University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center (Detroit), VCU Massey Cancer Center (Richmond) and Women and Infants Hospital (Rhode Island).

In addition to these grants that are being funded by Swim Across America charity swims within their community, Swim Across America is awarding $120,000 in grants to the Conquer Cancer Foundation (American Society of Clinical Oncology—ASCO) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) that will fund young investigators who have promising ideas to fight cancer.

For more information, please visit swimacrossamerica.org

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.

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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.

 

 

Swim Across America Posts 2018 Schedule

Swim Across America is excited to announce  its 2018 open water schedule. After a record-setting 2017 that saw $4.8 million granted to cancer research, SAA will be expanding to 18 full-scale open water charity swims. Denver and Richmond join the fold as new swims and Charleston-Kiawah will expand from its original clinic/short-distance concept. Check out the schedule below, register and help SAA #makewaves to fight cancer in 2018! Direct link is here.

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The Stars Align at SMAC OUT CANCER 2017

The San Mateo SMAC Out Cancer pool swim hit new heights in 2017 with $85,000 and going raised to fund pediatric cancer research at UC San Francisco.

The event featured a swim with Olympians, a run with Olympians, a yoga class with Olympians and Dancing with Louis van Amstel of “Dancing with the Stars.”

Check out all the fun and join in 2018!

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SAA – Tampa Hits $1 Million Donated to Moffitt Cancer Center

Unsafe ocean conditions moved SAA – Tampa to the indoor pool. The event still made waves for Moffitt Cancer Center and raise over $200,000 to fight cancer and hit the $1 million cumulative fundraising mark.

Enjoy video from the event below and thanks to all participants, volunteers and donors for helping achieve such an impressive total! See everyone at Clearwater Beach in 2018!

25 Years of SAA – Long Island Sound History

2017 will mark SAA – Long Island Sound’s 25th year raising money to fight cancer through research, as well as provide for those who are going through treatment. We give thanks to all of you who have partnered with us throughout the years to make this event such a success. Below is a compilation of all historical photos, videos and flyers. We hope you’ll join us again this year to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. All historical photo albums can be found here.

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2015:

2016:

 

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2017 Captain’s Dinner Kickoff

Hard SAA Work Pays Off at 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.

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SAA – Tampa at Moffitt Cancer Center

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SAA – Dallas at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center

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SAA – Nantucket at Nantucket Cottage Hospital and Palliative and Support Care of Nantucket

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SAA – Seattle at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

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SAA – Baltimore at The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins

 

Top Questions For… Top San Francisco Fundraiser Steve Barbour

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This weekend, the SAA family will take to the waters in the San Francisco Bay for our final swim. The annual swim is set to raise over $450,000 to benefit the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute!

Steve Barbour joined the SAA – SF family in 2011, and took no time to get his feet wet (pun intended). He has been one of the top fundraisers for the swim in each of his three years participating, and those who know him can attest to the warmth he exudes, even if the Bay is chilly! We caught up with him to chat about his tribute team, the secret to successful fundraising and the taking a dip under the Golden Gate.

  1. Tell us a little about who or why you’ve gotten involved with SAA.

I started swimming 3 years ago to get back in shape and help manage stress. I happen to swim at the same facility as Susan Helmrich, who is a co-chair of the SF swim, and she invited me to join her team. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

  1. Are you a natural swimmer? Why choose a distance swim instead of a run or bike?

I’m not a natural swimmer although my younger brother Dave was competitive and a Laguna Beach lifeguard for many years. At first I thought I could train my way up to be competitive with him although he is 10 years my junior… big mistake! But now we can distance swim together, although he has to hold back and swim at maybe 65%. He did the event last year and it was great. Then we swam Alcatraz the next morning!

  1. Tell us about your team and the people swimming with you.

I swim on Team Susan Survives. It’s a fairly large group, as Susan knows everyone. You can’t help but be inspired by how she has managed her challenges (3 time survivor).

  1. You’re a top fundraiser for the San Francisco swim! What’s your secret?

I’ve been very fortunate in my career. I’ve worked at a large company for many years (Nestlé), and my wife and I have moved with the Company a number of times so we have a fairly large number of friends, both in and outside the company, that are happy to help out. The real secret is starting early, say early June, and following up occasionally, as often times the first or second email is just lost as people are so busy. It does take time… but it is obviously worth it! I also think I have an easier time because this is the only event that I ask for support from my family, friends and contacts.

  1. Would you rather: swim 3 miles on a sunny day or 1 mile with a shark tailing you?

I’ll take the 3 miles every time!!!

  1. How have you been touched by cancer?

We lost my Uncle Les way too early from brain cancer… he was only 55. And a friend and co-worker for over 25 years lost his son, David Stroud, to cancer. That was very tragic.

  1. What do you remember from your first SAA swim that keeps you coming back?

That was the year David Stroud passed away… just before the event…the kid was unbelievably tough, and I still get emotional when I think about it.

  1. What makes the SAA – San Francisco swim so unique?

With all due respect to Chicago, New York, and the other locations, you can’t beat swimming from under the Golden Gate into Crissy Field! The views and the location cannot be beat. It is iconic!!!

  1. What makes Swim Across America special?

I have really enjoyed all the people I have come into contact with in the SAA organization as well as the local event leaders. It is also important that SAA does a good job managing their cost structure so that the bulk of the funds raised go to the intended purpose.  And obviously, I enjoy swimming in the Bay.

  1. What is your favorite time of day to swim? Why?

I like to swim early… I used to hit the water at 6:30 AM, but now that I am retired, I start an hour later, and spend more time in the whirlpool! It’s a great way to start the day!