Advice from Dr. Tara Kirk Sell, SAA Olympian Ambassador and Pandemic Policy Expert

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. 

Fundraising Made Easy: Facebook Integration Now Live for SAA

Swim Across America is making fundraising easier through social media!

You can now link your Swim Across America fundraising page directly with Facebook. Once you register for your SAA charity swim, you can directly link your personal Swim Across America fundraising page to Facebook. You’ll be able to easily spread the word, collect donations and track your progress on Facebook. All donations through Facebook will be received by SAA and reflected in your fundraising thermometer!

Here’s How To Connect Your Fundraiser to Facebook:

1. Log in to your participant center.

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2. Scroll down and click on ‘Connect Fundraiser to Facebook.’

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3. It will redirect you to Facebook and a pop-up where you will click ‘OK’ or ‘Continue.’

4. You will then be prompted to go to your Fundraiser on Facebook if it doesn’t take you there immediately.

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5. Now you can edit all of your fundraising information and details you wish to include.

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6.  Promote your fundraiser by sharing a post on your timeline or inviting friends and family to your fundraising page.

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This new Facebook integration allows you to spread the word of your fundraising efforts and reach more people quicker and easier then ever before. For questions about using fundraisers on Facebook scroll down to the bottom part of our FAQ page.

Log in and get started now!

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.

2009:

2010:

2011:

2012:

2013:

2014:

2015:

2016:

 

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2017 Captain’s Dinner Kickoff

Saving Lives at the Johns Hopkins Swim Across America Lab

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.

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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

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SAA Lab Doctor speaks to Montclair Pool Swim Students

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The 3rd Annual Swim to Win Against Cancer Pool Swim took place earlier this year in Montclair, N.J., featuring student-athletes from Montclair High School and Newark Academy.

The students participating in the annual swim challenge were lucky enough to meet and participate in a Q&A session with Dr. Taha Merghoub, visiting from an SAA beneficiary, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Merghoub is also the Co- Director of the Ludwig Collaborative and Swim Across America Lab at MSK. Sarah Dillon Soden, Associate Director, Annual Giving at MSK also spoke at the event.

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Dr. Taha Merghoub of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

The students learned how the nearly $50,000 they’ve raised over the last three years at their pool swim challenge has helped fund the SAA Lab where Dr. Merghoub investigates the pathogenesis and treatment of melanoma.

A special thanks goes out to Montclair High School Swim Coach Ed Koenigsfest and Newark Academy Swim Coach Billy Blomn for supporting SAA and creating a great pool swim challenge where the competition focuses on a common goal.

Learn more about starting an SAA Pool Swim in your community here.

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.

12 Days of Christmas Workout

Between holiday shopping sprees, why not plan to get a workout in at the pool? This set comes straight from the North Pole- it’s our Twelve Days of Christmas Workout, and it’s 4850 yards of joy if you go through each day once. (If you’re a holiday workout fanatic and decide to go through the set like the song it’s named after, you’re looking at a whopping 23,200 yards, so have a couple extra Christmas cookies!)

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On the first day of Christmas, my workout gave to me…
1 x 100 easy free 

On the second day of Christmas, my workout gave to me…
2 x 75s drill

On the third day of Christmas, my workout gave to me…
3 x 50s descend

On the fourth day of Christmas, my workout gave to me…
4 x 100s IM

On the fifth day of Christmas, my workout gave to me…
5 x 50s sprint ALL OUT!

On the sixth day of Christmas, my workout gave to me…
6 x 100s pull

On the seventh day of Christmas, my workout gave to me…
7 x 50s alternate IM/IM transition 

On the eighth day of Christmas, my workout gave to me…
8 x 25s no breath freestyle 

On the ninth day of Christmas, my workout gave to me…
9 x 75s build to 90% effort

On the tenth day of Christmas, my workout gave to me…
10 x 50s kick alternate 3 build/2 fast

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my workout gave to me…
11 x 25s alternate 1 free easy/1 stroke fast

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my workout gave to me…
12 x 100s hold best average