Greenwich is a coastal community - and there’s something about the summer sun glistening on the water that instantly puts smiles on faces. Water is calming. Water is healing. Water can even play a role in helping those we love to fight and survive the effects of devastating disease….
That’s why, on the morning of June 27th, volunteer participants in the 9th Annual Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford 2015 Swim will be entering the water of Long Island Sound to help raise money to fund cancer gene therapy research.
In this one-year alone, 1,334,000 cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the US. When you face a disconcerting statistic like this - and consider the fact that all of us know someone who has had their life touched by cancer - it’s easy to understand the passion and emotion driving so many from our local community to give so freely of their time for this moving and inspirational event.
To date, more than 150 swimmers and volunteers have already signed up to take part in Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford. The goal is to get 200+ swimmers into the water on June 27th – all making waves in the fight against cancer.
This is an organization making a tangible impact. Swim Across America to date has raised more than $60 million in the fight against cancer with swims throughout the United States since its founding in 1987. Proceeds from the Greenwich-Stamford Swim go directly to the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT), the nation’s only foundation dedicated exclusively to funding cancer gene therapy research. ACGT uses 100 percent of all funds raised to support cancer research grants. It may also interest you to know that ACGT happens to be headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut - directly on the shores of Long Island Sound where this swim is scheduled to occur.
There’s also a sense of local pride - and a sense of upholding a geographically-based legacy - for those participating in the Greenwich-Stamford Swim. While Swim Across America is a national organization and offers dozens of similar swims from Boston Harbor to under the Golden Gate Bridge, its roots are firmly anchored in Connecticut and along the shores of Long Island Sound. Darien, Connecticut resident Matt Vossler and his lifelong friend and college roommate Jeff Keith are the ones who initially founded Swim Across America. Janel Jorgensen McArdle, current-president of Swim Across America and the 1988 Olympic silver medalist and Pan-American gold medalist, grew up in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and spent her summers swimming in Long Island Sound.
Chairs for this year’s Swim are Michele Graham and Lorrie Lorenz, both mothers of teenage cancer survivors. Lorrie Lorenz’s daughter Brooke is a Lymphoma survivor and Michele Graham’s daughter Nicole is a Leukemia survivor. Both were diagnosed in high school and went through treatment. Brooke Lorenz is now a graduate (May 2015) from the University of Colorado at Boulder and will be swimming in the event. Nicole Graham is just finishing her freshman year at Dartmouth College and will be a land volunteer this year.
Honorary co-chairs of the Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford event are Olympic Gold medalist Donna de Varona and her husband John Pinto, John and Cindy Sites, Mary Henry and Howard Rubin, and Arlene and Reuben Mark.
“Co-chairing the Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford Swim was a natural fit for me,” said Lorrie Lorenz, Swim Across America co-chair. “My family has been involved with Swim Across America as both volunteers and swimmers for six years. After my daughter Brooke was diagnosed with Lymphoma as a senior in high school four years ago, and after two surgeries and many grueling rounds of chemotherapy, I’m happy to report that she is now cancer-free and back in the water raising money for cancer research.”
“Our introduction as a volunteer for Swim Across America came through our daughter Nicole, who at age 16, was diagnosed with ALL leukemia in 2012,” noted Michele Graham, Swim Across America co-chair. “After Nicole recovered from critical complications – including septic shock and strokes on both sides of her brain - she was the kickoff speaker for the Swim Across America event in 2013; in 2014 she was co-captain of the team Chemosabi as well as an intern for the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy. Now today, after recently completing chemotherapy, she is once again dedicating her time to this inspiring event.”
“When my daughter was undergoing chemotherapy and struggled to recover from the devastating complications, I was overwhelmed by how much the community rallied to our side and supported us,” says Michele Graham. “Co-chairing Swim Across America is our chance to give back and support everyone whose life is touched by cancer. No one’s cancer is easy. Nicole and Brooke are fortunate. They are cancer survivors. Our goal is to raise funds for cancer treatment and prevention research so that everyone can be a survivor.”
Here at Living Greenwich - we understand the power of a connected community. That’s why it makes us so happy to see the list of superstar generous sponsors (including many local names) who have made the Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford event possible and include: Geneve Corporation, CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, Letarte Swimwear Greenwich, Turq Swimbrief, Serendipity, Upper Crust Bagel Company, Westy Self Storage, Conair Corporation, Beres Brooks, Richards of Greenwich, the Barbara and Edward Netter Foundation, Go Figure, Kings, BTIG Finis, Kellogg’s, Kiss My Face, Nestle Pure, Swim Outlet, Swim Swam and Columbus Circle Investors.
If you’re looking for an incredible local cause to get involved with - everyone’s invited! Swimmers and volunteers this year range in age from a nine year old swimmer from New York City all they way up to swimmers and volunteers in their 80’s who are joining together to support this important cause. While swimmers are always encouraged to participate, there are also opportunities for boaters, kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders. Everyone who participates or volunteers should register in advance at: http://www.swimacrossamerica.org/greenwich