SAA CELEBRATES RECORD-BREAKING YEAR IN ORLANDO

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Members of the Swim Across America family came together in Orlando at Rosen Plaza for the Champions Against Cancer Summit this October 11-13.

Board Members, Event Directors, Olympians and Oncologists joined the national SAA staff to celebrate a record-breaking 2017 and the $3 million charitable contribution to SAA from Merck.

CHAMPIONS AGAINST CANCER WELCOME RECEPTION

See how many faces you recognize in this fun collection from the reception.

CHAMPIONS AGAINST CANCER SUMMIT

We were honored to have some of the country’s leading oncologists speak as well as plenty of SAA leaders. You can see some of the excitement from the Merck announcement in this album.

Thursday morning presenters included Dr. Taha Mexghoub (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), Dr. Paul DiSilvestro (Women & Infants Hospital), Dr. Jeff Borgia (Rush University Medical Center), Dr. Lynda Vrooman (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)

The surprise Merck charitable contribution was celebrated by special Olympian guests Rowdy Gaines, Steve Lundquist, Janel Jorgensen McArdle, Heather Petri, Ryan Berube, Eric Wunderlich, George DiCarlo and Craig Beardsley

The afternoon session featured Dr. Carlos Becerra (Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center at Dallas), Polona Safaric (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory), Dr. Julie Saba, (UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco), Dr. Marc Symons (Feinstein Institute of North Shore) and Dr. Jonathan Gerber (Levine Cancer Institute of Carolinas Healthcare System).

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Friday presenters included Dr. Jim Garvin (New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center), Dr. Douglas K. Graham (Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Children and Emory University), Dr. Shari Pilon-Thomas (Moffitt Cancer Center), Dr. Damon Reed (Moffitt Cancer Center) and Dr. Richard Garlic (University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital).

SAA FAMILY TREE (2017 RECAP)

SAA Family Tree is a monthly focus on stories that display the impact all the members of the Swim Across America family have both locally and nationally. If you have a story or link you’d like to share, please send here.

SAA – Atlanta

SAA – Charlotte

  • Spectrum News had all the video highlights of the inaugural SAA-Charlotte featuring Levine Cancer Institute’s Dr. Jonathan Gerber and Queens University swimmer and cancer survivor Alex Marshall.
  • Patty Waldron and her team of Masters Swimmers go ‘out of the box’ to raise money for Levine Cancer Center.

SAA – San Francisco Bay Area

  • 3-year old Seth Lurie is battling rhabdomyosarcoma. Seth and his dad came to SAA – San Francisco and this is what he thinks of cancer.

SAA – Baltimore

  • Emma and Sammy Rocks of Team Rock On joined Wyatt Eberhart on Midday Maryland!

 

SAA – St. Louis

  • John Traube was the top fundraiser with over $26K raised for SAA – St. Louis. Find out why his story is such an inspiration to us at SAA!

SAA – Rhode Island

  • Olympian Elizabeth Beisel joined the Rhode Island swim this year and made a big splash with all the college swimmers and hospital patients alike!

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SAA – Dallas

SAA – Seattle

  • Another big splash for SAA – Seattle as featured by Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

SAA Debuts Under Armour WaveMaker gift for 2017

Swim Across America is excited to celebrate our 30th Anniversary with an Under Armour-branded 1/4 zip pullover for all WaveMakers that raise at least $1,000.

This is your chance to go the extra mile and join the exclusive WaveMaker club. You’ll get the chance to show your SAA pride year-round with this all-weather pullover. Register today and set your fundraising goal to WaveMaker!

Fundraisers that hit their WaveMaker goal will also receive a $30 Finis gift card in honor of our 30th Anniversary and a WaveMaker car window decal as well. This is the year to set your goals higher to WaveMaker status!

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Lab Series #1: Moffitt Cancer Center

Your donations allow SAA to provide funding to some of the world’s most renowned cancer institutions. This is the first in a series featuring the SAA LABS that our beneficiaries have named in honor of the efforts of Swim Across America.

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Swim Across America Adolescent & Young Adult Lounge

This month, we are profiling the Swim Across America Adolescent and Young Adult Lounge at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in April 2015 (featuring Tampa Bay Open Water Swim Event Director Rob Shapiro, former SAA CEO Janel Jorgensen-McArdle and current SAA CEO Rob Butcher). The SAA AYA Lounge is used by the approximately 100 young adult cancer patients at the hospital every day. Olivia Fridgen, AYA and LATTE Program Coordinator at Moffitt provided this insight.

How has the reception been to the SAA AYA Lounge by patients?
The reception from patients has been amazing. The corkboard wall on the lounge shows patient artwork, the white board has encouragement from patient to patient and the lounge journal has pages and pages of thoughts and inspirational words. It has been a respite for inpatients who need a change of scenery, as a place to spend time with their family and friends who come to visit and a great spot for the AYA (Adolescent and Young Adults) Program to host events and support groups.

Since the SAA AYA Lounge is different from  other research-based SAA Labs, what interesting facts can you pass along?
We are the 1st AYA Lounge in Florida, the 3rd in the country. We are also unique because our lounge provides physical space not only for our inpatients but our outpatients as well. Some of the traditional lounges are built in conjunction with inpatient units and therefore are not accessible to outpatients. Another unique mention is that our Moffitt AYA Patients actually designed the entire space – they picked out color schemes, fabrics, flooring and lighting so that we were confident our lounge was hitting the mark and what AYA patients would actually want in a space.

Do patients get treatment in the SAA AYA Lounge?
No, the lounge is a place to get away from the hustle bustle of the hospital life. The Lounge has the latest gaming systems, comfy couches, white boards, board games and art supplies. The inpatient floors of the hospital, where admitted patients would receive treatment, is steps away which provides convenience and access to the lounge.


 

How much did it cost to build the SAA AYA Lounge?
SAA has donated nearly $140,000 to the AYA program over the years and monies from the 2014 race were specifically designated to the creation of the SAA AYA Lounge.

Does the AYA Group anticipate this to be a trend in hospital systems moving forward?
Yes, organizations like Teen Cancer America are working with AYA Programs across the country to fund and offer physical spaces in hospitals for young cancer patients.

Why is it important for Moffitt and other hospitals to have a lounge for adolescent and young adults?
Adolescent and Young Adult patients feel like they are the only 20- or 30-year-old in the entire hospital. While we know that isn’t true, each patient is seen in their respective clinic (for example, if you have breast cancer you’re seen in the Breast Clinic, if you have Lung Cancer you’re seen in Thoracic, etc.), so they never get the chance to run into one another. The Lounge provides a space where Young Adult cancer patients can actually meet another young person with cancer. Because it’s in a communal space, it’s less awkward, more organic and can reduce the feelings of isolation many AYAs feel, which is important to their psychosocial state of mind and also can create lasting friendships. Many of our patients say that family and friends are extremely supportive, but no one quite “gets it” like another young cancer patient.

How Far Have We Come?

SAA By the Numbers

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Shake off the ice and snow- spring is officially upon us and we’ve awoken from the deep freeze! To get everyone back in gear and excited for this year’s schedule of open water events (starting May 4th in Atlanta!!) we figured we’d run some numbers. Haven’t you ever wondered just how far we actually have swum across America at this point?! Let’s find out!!

We went a looooooong way in 2013…
The mileage our swimmers have covered in open-water events alone is impressive. In 2013, we collectively swam 5447.5 miles in open-water events, meaning last year, we swam across America about 1.82 times!

We have swam back and forth a few times…
Unimpressed so far? Not for long! Since our inception, assuming all of our swimmers each swam an average of 1 mile each, we’ve swum across America about 10 times. Yes- 10 times across the country since our first open-water swim!

We’re making an impact…
While the miles we’ve covered alone are cause for celebration, the funds we’ve raised for cancer research deserves its own look. The amount we’ve raised since our first swim is over $50 million, which equals over 2,501,250 pairs of Speedo Vanquisher goggles, 1,001,001 women’s swimsuits or 156,274 pool lane lines.

It’s all thanks to you…
And get this: we’ve had about 30,000 swimmers in our open-water events since our beginning. If we assume equal numbers of American men and women with average wingspans of both genders, this means that holding hands, our Swim Across America family would stretch about 31.84 miles long!

Let’s do it again!
How many times will we make it across America this season? You can help us beat last year’s collective distance and add to our Swim Across America family by registering for a 2014 swim!

Twin Swims

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For the past couple years, Swim Across America has hosted two late summer swims on the same day- at opposite ends of the country! The Rhode Island and Seattle open water events are twin swims, and like any set, they’ve got a lot in common but also have distinct personalities. Since we’re not ones for sibling rivalry, we decided to spotlight both swims to connect our SAA family across the continent!

Rhode Island: East Coast

Over on the Atlantic side, the smallest state in the union hosts one heck of a swim. Rhode Island’s SAA swim is marked by a mix of intense energy and intimacy, and is a blast to participate in.

Walk onto the beach as the sun rises, and our DJ will be playing “Party Rock Anthem.” The Narragansett venue attracts the most college swimmers at an SAA event in the country, so most of our top fundraisers in the Ocean State are still students. (As of this posting, Providence College has been holding steady as the top team fundraiser with over $14,000!)

Not to be outdone by the youthful exuberance of the college kids, local Rhode Islanders have been incredibly dedicated to SAA. The family is small- watch for how many locals chat up RI-born-and-bred Olympian Clara Walker- and everyone knows someone who’s been treated at beneficiary Women and Infants, making this swim a very personal one.

With both a half-mile and full mile distance, swimmers can choose their challenge at Roger Wheeler State Beach. Rhode Islanders commonly describe themselves as small but strong, but there’s nothing little about the life and heart emerging from the Narragansett waters as SAA swimmers run up on the beach!

Seattle: West Coast

Out West, Seattle starts the summer sendoff in style with their swim off Mercer Island in Lake Washington. Always prepared to innovate, Seattle is one of the first cities in the SAA family to host a BREAKOWT clinic, which is run in conjunction with the Michael Phelps Swim School and preps swimmers for open water events.

The Mercer Island swim has got something for everyone with a 50-meter kids’ splash, ½ mile and 2 mile swim. The entire family has almost no excuse to stay out of the water, and it seems that they won’t! SAA Seattle is hosting 37 (yes, 37!) tribute teams this year, so Lake Washington will be teeming with powerhouse teams!

The most unique aspect of Seattle’s event is that it’s the only one in the nation that has a corporate matching system. Through the McAdams Wright Ragen Matching Program, a bonus will be donated in the name of the top ten teams if they raise a combined $120,000. It’s a generous and original program that proves that SAA Seattle leads the way in shaping unique events.

Benefitting the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, this West Coast swim’s goal is to raise three times as much as its twin swim, but that hardly takes away from the family-reunion feel of the event. Pancakes on the beach attract the likes of Olympians Ariana Kukors, Jeff Float, Dana Kirk, and Rick Colella, to name a few. That familial spirit hangs on the beach with the “why I swim” flags in Seattle, and considering the innovation that has come to define SAA Seattle, it makes for a vibrant event full of surprises and above all, life.

Two oceans. Two events. One cause. Like any set of twins, our swims in Seattle and Rhode Island are connected in spirit, and serve to connect all who’ve been touched by cancer. We’ll see you on the beach- you choose the coast!