Swim Across America Celebrates 35 Years of Making Waves to Fight Cancer

Month of July Marks Swim Across America's 35th Anniversary and $100M Raised + Times Square Billboards Highlight the Nonprofit's Efforts to Make Waves to Fight Cancer

NEW YORK (PRWEB) July 26, 2022

July is a big month in the swimming world – and for the nonprofit Swim Across America, July is the middle of the summer swim season and a half-way point in Swim Across America's charity swims from Boston to the Golden Gate Bridge. This year, July is also a time when Swim Across America celebrates its 35th anniversary! Swim Across America is making a big splash for its 35 years of making waves to fight cancer and raising $100 million in cancer research dollars. In honor of its 35th anniversary, the nonprofit is being celebrated by Clear Channel Outdoor in Times Square in New York City with two large billboards highlighting the organization's incredible milestones and contributions to new and better treatments for cancer.

Two screens standing 100 feet tall combined and 31 and 41 feet wide respectively, are adjacent to Duffy Square and the TKTS booth on Broadway between 46th and 47th Streets and are running public service announcements/videos about Swim Across America though July 31, 2022. The big screens highlight some of the achievements Swim Across America has made throughout the years by contributing to four FDA approved life-saving immunotherapy cancer treatments: Yervoy, Opdivo, Tecentriq and Keytruda, and supporting research with more than 60 scientific grants funded each year. In June of this year, very encouraging news about a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering was published in The New England Journal of Medicine that showed a 100 percent success rate in treating patients in a phase 2 clinical trial for advanced rectal cancer with dostarlimab, an immunotherapy treatment produced by GlaxoSmithKline. The clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering was funded by early-stage grant funding from Swim Across America.

The month of July commemorates two New York area Swim Across America charity swims – the Swim Across America Long Island Sound (Westchester County) swim on Saturday, July 30, at the Larchmont Yacht Club in Larchmont, New York, and the Swim Across America Nassau/Suffolk - Sound to Cove swim on Sunday, July 31, at Pryibil Beach in Glen Cove, New York on Long Island. Combined, these two swims, which are some of the largest Swim Across America events in the nation, raise $2 million for crucial cancer research for their beneficiaries, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Columbia University Medical Center, Cancer Support Team, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the Feinstein Institute of North Shore, and MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital, SHARE Cancer Support.

Swim Across America has a long history in the New York metropolitan area where it started in 1987 off the shores of Connecticut in Long Island Sound with a sunken boat – and today has grown to $100 million raised to fight cancer. How did a nonprofit organization do this? Swim Across America makes waves - lots of waves. Some of Swim Across America's history, along with "35 Stories of Impact," highlighting its 35th anniversary, are shared on a special webpage at swimacrossamerica.org/35.

In its 35 years of charity swims, more than 100,000 swimmers and Olympians have swum the circumference of the earth three times uniting a movement to fight cancer that has created a groundswell of support spanning all generations. Today, more than 24 communities hold open water swims and charity pool swims each year for Swim Across America.

More than 60 scientific grants are funded each year and there are ten dedicated Swim Across America Labs at major institutions including: Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, John Hopkins Medicine Baltimore, Rush University Medical Center Chicago, Baylor Scott & White Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center at Dallas, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center New York, Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Palliative and Supportive Care of Nantucket, Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Lounge at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland and San Francisco and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

"Swim Across America was born as a sequel to the triumph of a run across America that we did originally to support our friend and my college roommate Jeff Keith, who had lost his right leg to cancer when he was a teenager," said Matt Vossler, co-founder of Swim Across America and a Darien, Connecticut, resident. "After the run, in which we raised $1 million for cancer research and celebrated with a call from President Ronald Regan, we returned to our homes in Connecticut and New York motivated to find new ways to treat cancer beyond surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. I wanted to come up with an activity that a lot of people could participate in and raise money for cancer research. No one had tried a charity swim, Jeff and I both knew how to swim, so we gave it a try. Our first swimming event was a team relay charity swim across Long Island Sound, from Connecticut to New York, on August 1, 1987. We raised around $5,000 – but we had some pitfalls: rough seas, a sudden squall and a sunken (rented) boat! It was a big challenge, but validated what we believed to be true – there were a lot of people who had sadly been touched by cancer and they wanted to do something about it. Swimming was one of those things a lot knew how to do, and by swimming to raise money, we knew we could make a difference."

Olympians Craig Beardsley, Rowdy Gaines, Sippy Woodhead and Steve Lundquist participated in those early years and helped give credibility to the cause. Today, more than 150 Olympians have participated with Swim Across America charity swims including Michael Phelps and Elizabeth Beisel. However, you don't have to be an Olympic swimmer to participate. In fact, most participants, ages eight to 82, are amateur swimmers. And you can volunteer as a land or water volunteer too.

"Cancer doesn't discriminate. It affects so many," said Rob Butcher, CEO of Swim Across America. "Our charity swims create community and help others. Our grants have allowed doctors and nurses to more often tell families ‘there is hope' with new treatments, improved detection, and patient programs."

In 2018, the Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to Dr. Jim Allison, the first time an oncologist had received the prestigious award. Dr. Allison is a pioneer who has been trying to figure out the immune system's role in fighting cancer. His research in the 70's and 80's was considered fringe medicine and a waste of time. Dr. Allison's career began as a researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering where he collaborated with the Swim Across America Research Lab. Today, immunotherapy is a treatment that can help many patients better fight cancer.

For Swim Across America's 35th anniversary this year, many of the stories being highlighted are of cancer survivors who have been treated with immunotherapy and are here today because of these life-saving treatments. Many are stories of inspiration where someone is involved in a swim because of a loved-one who is currently fighting cancer or because of someone they have lost. There are participants like Vicki Bunke who swam last year in 14 open water swims in honor of her 14 year-old daughter Grace who lost her battle with osteosarcoma. Robert McLaren of Houston recently retired and is determined to swim in every single Swim Across America open water event. He completed eight last year and plans on swimming in nine open water events in 2022. There is 11 year-old Wyatt Deaton of Tampa who is swimming in honor of his Mom Michelle, who is a breast cancer survivor, and in addition to being a straight-A student, has a goal of raising $2,000 for cancer research himself this year (he is currently the top fundraiser with raising more than $5,000!). There are Brad Johnson and Jana Chanthabane in Charleston, South Carolina, who didn't know each other before joining Swim Across America, but are now leading the Charleston swim together - each cancer survivors. At the Larchmont/Long Island Sound swim, Swim Across America is a family affair with the Glanz Brothers Josh and Jeremy, the Webers, Frank, April, May and June, Tony Sibio and Andrea Fufidio, all inspired to do more by the loss of family members and friends to cancer. The Larchmont swim each year raises more than $1 million dollars that is funding research and patient programs.

"There are so many moving and inspiring stories that make the Swim Across America movement," noted Rob Butcher. "We hope by showcasing these stories, more people will want to be involved and make waves with us."

To see Swim Across America's "35 Stories of Impact," visit swimacrossamerica.org/35. To learn about a swim, get involved or donate, visit swimacrossamerica.org.

About Swim Across America
Swim Across America, Inc. (SAA) is dedicated to raising money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment through swimming-related events. With the help of hundreds of volunteers nationwide and past and current Olympians, Swim Across America is helping find a cure for cancer through athleticism, community outreach and direct service. To learn more visit http://www.swimacrossamerica.org/fairfieldcounty swimacrossamerica.org or follow on Facebook @SwimAcrossAmerica or on Instagram or Twitter @SAASwim.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: https://www.prweb.com/releases/2022/7/prweb18809003.htm

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