An amazing 130 swimmers (an increase of 40 people since last year and the biggest group of swimmers yet) raised approximately $60,000 for cancer research and support–and donations continue to come in! Proceeds from the Swim Across America event support the Swim Across America Laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, and the Westchester-based Cancer Support Team.
Swim Across America
By Isabella and Margaux Weiner
The best of Chappaqua was on display on Sunday morning’s Swim Across America fundraising event at Chappaqua Swim & Tennis, the picture-perfect sunny weather reflecting the optimism of this broad community effort. What started eight years ago as an off-site, four-person swim has grown to a home event involving more than 80 swimmers with ages ranging from six to nearly sixty. Each swimmer swam a half-mile or mile, and money pledged for the swim funds cancer research and treatment.
The fundraising results of the Chappaqua swim have increased dramatically, with more than $60,000 in contributions so far this year! This puts the Chappaqua Swim & Tennis swim in the number one spot for fundraising among all the pool swims in Westchester and Long Island. This is an outstanding accomplishment for an event that held its first home swim only four years ago, thanks to our community! Olympic silver medalist Bobby Hackett of Katonah helped kickstart the Chappaqua swim, offering a swim clinic to participants.
Many local businesses contributed food and refreshments for the event, as well as wonderful prizes for raffle and high-end items for silent auction. Beneficiaries of SAA-LIS funds include the Cancer Support Team–Purchase, NY; Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at New York Presbyterian, New York; and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center-New York, supporting the Swim Across America Research Laboratory.
By Richard Mintzer
Swimmers of all ages hit the water early on Sunday to take part in the third annual Swim Across America at the Chappaqua Swim and Tennis Club. The money raised–close to $40,000 was anticipated at this posting–goes for cancer research, prevention and treatment.
The event had been held locally at the Orienta Swim Club in Mamaroneck for three years before interest grew in Chappaqua.
“There was so much interest from our own community that we brought it here and so many people participated,” explained Dan Levy, team captain and head swim coach at the Chappaqua Swim and Tennis Club, who also lost his sister to cancer. “It’s not only the kids swimming, but you see adults jumping in and joining them,” added Levy.
Participants have the option of swimming a full mile (64 laps) or a half mile (32 laps) and can take breaks as necessary. Wyatt Yates, turning 12 next week, swam two miles in the early hours of Sunday morning. “It’s not really hard when you think about it. You just have to tell yourself to keep on swimming and it’s over really fast. I took a short break in-between the miles,” said Yates, a Chappaqua resident, whose older sister Madison, and mom Carrie, also swam.
“We have Jada 6, Kiara 8 and Lucca 10” noted a proud Maija Cekic while sitting poolside and keeping score of her girls’ laps while dad, Raseko, also cheered them on. “We were telling them that it’s a great cause and we encouraged them to do it, plus they love swimming” added mom as her daughters popped out of the water to ask how many laps they were up to.
Also ready to jump into the pool was Katonah resident Bobby Hackett, who won the silver medal in the 1500 meter freestyle at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Hackett, who also ran a free swim clinic during the morning, grew up in Yonkers.
“We all know people who are affected by cancer or have passed on, so it’s a very important cause” said Hackett, who also helps coach the Marlin’s swim team at the Boys and Girls Club in Mount Kisco. “It’s good for me to stay in shape, help some of the kids with their strokes and it’s a great way to start a Sunday,” added the former Olympian before jumping in.
Many participants were swimming in memory of loved ones who had battled cancer or to honor those who are battling it now. For some of them, it was their first time swimming these distances and they were encouraged by enthusiastic parents, volunteers and spectators.
All participants were encouraged to bring in photos or mementos to put on display and celebrate the lives of family members and friends who have passed away from various forms of cancer. The Swim Across America banner also became a “message board” for everyone to write a special message regarding their loved ones.
Outside the club’s outdoor 25-meter heated pool, swimmers, volunteers and spectators were able to enjoy a variety of refreshments from smoked salmon to pastries and sweets donated by a wide array of sponsors from Le Jardin du Roi and the Healthy Choice Apothecary, to Carolyn Simpson/DoubleVision Photography and the Mango Café in Mount Kisco plus the hosting Chappaqua Swim and Tennis Club; a number of private individuals also contributed to the event.
This year, with nearly $30,000 raised even prior to the big day, it is anticipated that the total proceeds from the event would top the $38,000 raised last year in Chappaqua for Swim Across America, Inc., which hosts nearly 50 swims in 14 states, raising millions of dollars for cancer research and prevention programs at the country’s finest hospitals and managed-care facilities. Donations may still be made here.
Photos by Henry Lee
Chappaqua Kids’ Laps had Heart and Soul in NY’s Third Most Successful “Swim Across America”
Article and Photos by Zarah Kavarana
Early on Sunday, July 14, the Chappaqua Swim and Tennis Club was flooded with swimmers of all ages who were eager to jump in the pool and swim to raise money for the grassroots organization, Swim Across America.
The event helped raise both money and awareness for cancer research, prevention, and treatment. This was Swim Across America’s second year hosting the event at the Chappaqua Swim and Tennis Club. In 2012, the event raised $30K, which made it the third most successful Swim Across America event in the greater New York area. According to Media Chair, Jean Fufidio, the total amount raised for this year is currently in the process of being tallied, but the number is already well over last year’s mark.
Swim Across America, Inc. was originally founded in 1987. Through the years, it has united and attracted over 5,000 recreational and competitive swimmers, Olympians, kayakers, boaters, and volunteers in the fight against cancer. Today, it offers 50 swims in 14 different states with multiple chapters. Swim Across America has raised more than $40 million, which has ultimately gone toward research and prevention programs at some of America’s most well regarded hospitals and managed-care facilities.
Silver medalist in the 1976 Olympics and volunteer coach, Bobby Hackett, highlighted the benefits of the event.
He said, “It’s a community getting together for a cause and everybody here knows somebody who has directly or indirectly been impacted by cancer. For me, it’s an opportunity to give back and raise some funds to hopefully make peoples lives better.”
To describe Swim Across America, Fufido said, “Swim Across America is a community-minded organization where it’s national in scope, but local in heart.”
The Long Island Sound Chapter, which includes a large number of Westchester County members, is now the largest in the organization and has raised over $12 million since its start in 1992. In 2012 alone, it raised about $1 million with support from its community. The chapter has a goal of raising $1.2 million this year.
Swimmers had options to fit their comfort and experience levels. They could swim one mile or half a mile, individually or with a team. Participants came out for a variety of reasons, ultimately uniting together against cancer. Nineteen-year-old Henry Simon decided to take part as a tribute to his father, David Simon, who died of cancer in 2007. He said, “It really started when Coach Dan brought Swim Across America to the Chappaqua Swim and Tennis Club. He asked me if it was okay making a Team Karen and David because my Dad was a big part of this club when he was still alive, and a lot of kids knew him. I really just do it in honor of him so that everyone doesn’t forget and remembers that it [cancer] touches everyone, not just a few people.”
Ten-year-old Joseph Weiner also participated for the ones he has loved and lost. “The event helps raise money to help fight cancer and people I know have died from having that and it’s really sad. I do the best I can to help.”
Following the event was a free swim clinic from former Olympic swimmer and Katonah resident, Bobby Hackett. He worked with attendees, giving them helpful tips that would greater improve their skills. Hackett would first explain, then demonstrate the hint, and call a few swimmers at a time into the water to try out what they were just taught.
Complimentary food and beverages were available throughout the event, and a kiddie pool was open for the little ones. Medals, t-shirts, and beach towels were given to those who participated.
Many of those who could not or chose not to swim made a pledge to the Swim Across America website: www.swimacrossamerica.org. Inside Chappaqua readers are also encouraged to donate what they can to this influential cause.
Zarah Kavarana, Inside Chappaqua Magazine’s summer intern, is entering her sophomore year at Boston University this September.