In 2004, Dr. Tara Kirk Sell broke the world record in the 100 breaststroke (Short Course Meters) and earned a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. When she’s not supporting Swim Across America-Baltimore as an Olympian Ambassador, Dr. Sell conducts, manages, and leads research projects to develop a greater understanding of potentially large-scale health events at Johns Hopkins.
Dr. Sell was an expert witness at a congressional committee hearing on COVID-19 in early March and Swim Across America was lucky enough to get her thoughts on our current position.
“I’ve been working on pandemic preparedness issues for the past decade and my Center, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has been on COVID-19 since the beginning,” said Dr. Sell. “My work has always focused on trying to improve our country’s preparedness for serious pandemics like COVID-19. I work on a range of different topics including public health communication, misinformation, crowd sourced disease forecasting, community resilience, and public health policy formation.”
When asked for her expert advice to the Swim Across America community, Dr. Sell provided this powerful message:
“I think the most important thing that people can do in their response to COVID-19 is right-size their understanding of the seriousness of the disease. On the one hand, it’s a serious problem. On the other, there’s no need to panic. We need to take thoughtful precautions like limiting unnecessary contact with others, having good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, and staying home when sick to manage the outbreak now and for the foreseeable future.”
“The SAA community is no stranger to the idea that we all need to join together and make shared sacrifices to protect the vulnerable. This pandemic is not different.”
Here’s video from Johns Hopkins featuring Dr. Sell in early March. For the most updated guidance on COVID-19, visit: https://www.coronavirus.gov/
Dr. Tara Kirk Sell is a Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Swim Across America partnered with the Michael Phelps Foundation for an inspiring charity swim honoring Michael’s learn-to-swim coach and cancer survivor, Cathy Bennett. The event in Mesa, Arizona raised over $55,000 that will fund a cancer research project at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore.
Bennett, whom Phelps affectionately refers to as Ms. Cathy, is the Program Director of the Michael Phelps Foundation where she oversees the Foundation’s signature program – IM – which provides learn-to-swim, recreational aquatic activities, organized swim instruction, as well as health, wellness, and goal-setting programming.
Phelps, the most decorated swimmer in World Championships history and 28-time Olympic medalist, retired from competitive swimming in 2016.
Notable attendees included Dr. Bill Nelson, chief of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, three-time Olympian Allison Schmitt (2008, 2012, 2016), 2016 Olympic head coach and Arizona State University head coach Bob Bowman, and members of the ASU swim team.
Stefanie Joho joined SAA – Baltimore this year to share her uplifting story. Four years ago at 22-years old she was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer. Stefanie went through repeated chemo with no positive response, and the cancer spread to stage 4. Her doctors gave her weeks to live. Desperate and not willing to give up, her sister googles and finds Dr. Luis Diaz at our beneficiary Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Dr. Diaz told Joho to come immediately to JHU where she participates in an immunotherapy clinical trial of Keytruda funded–yes funded–by your donations to Swim Across America. The trial saved her life (she has “no evidence of disease NED”), she has a bright future and Keytruda is now FDA approved. Read Stefanie’s story in the New York Times and if you are inspired by the work being done through Swim Across America labs, please consider donating to SAA: http://bit.ly/SAAdonation.
Genetic tests for mismatch repair deficiency are commercially available. But insurers might not pay for the drugs — Keytruda and Opdivo cost $150,000 a year — based on such a small study. The study was paid for by Swim Across America and other charities, and the National Institutes of Health. – New York Times