Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford this Saturday

On Saturday, June 25, more than 200 swimmers and close to 100 land volunteers and boaters will make waves to defeat cancer in the 10th annual Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford Swim, being held on the border of Greenwich and Stamford at 96 Cummings Point Road, Stamford, Connecticut. Taking the plunge for 10 years in a row are several swimmers that have dedicated themselves to the mission of Swim Across America and are proudly swimming in honor of friends and loved ones that have been touched by cancer.

In this one-year alone, 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the US. This staggering statistic offers compelling proof of the need to continue devising new approaches to research and treatment. Whether it is through swimming, volunteering, giving or cheering on loved ones, Swim Across America welcomes anyone and everyone who wants to be a part of the fight against cancer.

Craig Lawrence of Rye Brook, New York, is a 10 year swimmer. This year, he will be challenging himself by swimming three-miles in the open water. “My sister, Kimberly Lawrence Netter, unfortunately lost her battle with breast cancer in 2001 at the age of 44,” noted Lawrence. “She was extraordinary — a remarkable and generous soul who brought people together and was adored by anyone and everyone who ever met her.” The loss was devastating for his family but inspired Edward and Barbara Netter, Kim’s mother and father-in-law, to establish the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT), the beneficiary of the funds raised by Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America. When ACGT and Swim Across America partnered in 2006, Craig, an avid swimmer and triathlete, knew that he had to get involved. “It was just something very personal that I could do to express the love and support that my sister had always shown to me, but I also knew that the collaboration would produce great results in the battle against cancer.” Sadly, Kim is not the only family member that keeps Craig coming back to swim. His father Richard Lawrence, cousin Diane Darst, and uncle Bob Wassman, all bravely fought and lost their lives to cancer. “Too many family and friends, including my sister’s father-in-law, Edward Netter, have succumbed to cancer. I swim to honor their memory and help fund the development of new, innovative cancer treatments. ACGT funded researchers have made tremendous advances in the development of cell and gene therapies across multiple cancer types over the past decade, and I will continue to swim and support their efforts until cancer becomes a disease of the past.”

“I participated in the first Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford Swim 10 years ago because my friend Jacque Lang, former co-chair of the event, asked me to participate,” said Victoria Dinkel of Ridgefield, Connecticut. “Despite having never swam a lap in a pool, let alone 1.5 miles in open water, there was something intriguing about trying something new.  Jacque and her sister, Olympic swimmer Janel Jorgensen McArdle, gave me a freestyle swim lesson as my three small children sat poolside cheering. At the first Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford event, I was touched by the stories of each of the swimmers. The first year I swam for our dear family friend James Keating. His daughter Kelly Stapleton went on to start a Swim Across America pool swim in New York. Sadly, each year, there was someone else to swim for. Mr. LeDoux, Ken Koestler, Noreen, Justin, the list goes on. Two years ago my mom Catherine Clark was diagnosed with AML Leukemia. My Mom grew up on Rockaway Beach and her love for the water and its healing power was one of her greatest influences on me. This year, I will be swimming in my mom’s memory. She was my biggest fan and most generous supporter. Each year my entire family looks forward to volunteering at the Greenwich-Stamford swim.  I am astounded by the generosity of my friends and family to contribute to the Alliance for Gene Therapy and after my mom’s treatment. I know first-hand how important the research funded is for those undergoing treatment.”

For Roberta, Jesse, Daniel and Jen Bass, of Greenwich, Connecticut, Swim Across America is a family affair. 2016 will be their 10th year participating in the Greenwich-Stamford swim together — volunteering on the land, kayaking and swimming. Jesse’s mother was told she had cancer on May 11, 2006. “I remember the exact date,” said Jesse Bass. “It was also the day of my college graduation. My mother got the news by phone. We were in Arizona and the doctor wanted her to get on the plane right away and get back home to Greenwich Hospital for the first procedure. No one at the graduation knew anything about it. My mother put on her best “game face” and looked the proud and happy parent that entire day and night. She did not want to spoil the celebration. She did what is so often required of all cancer patients. To continue taking care of family, job, mounting medical expenses and the myriad decisions about how to battle the disease. And all the while pushing hard against the fear, anguish, and anxiety of that awful diagnosis. While an in-patient at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, my mother saw a sign for a Swim Across America event taking place on the Hudson River the following month.  She registered herself, my brother Daniel, and me as volunteers. That was our first year with Swim Across America. In 2007, Greenwich-Stamford joined Swim Across America with its own event and the Bass family all swam. It was a beautiful, inspiring, and moving day and I look forward to this year’s 10th annual Swim.”

In the past nine years, the Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America event has:

  • Raised more than $2.8 million to support the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT); 100% of all donations to ACGT go directly to support cancer cell and gene therapy research
  • Inspired 1,630 swimmers to swim in Long Island Sound making waves to #defeatcancer
  • Included swimmers ages six to 82!
  • Had the help of 808 land, beach and sea volunteers
  • Swam 2,119.5 total miles

The Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America event has supported the research of five ACGT scientists: Khalid Shah, PhD, MSc, with Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School; Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD, of Moores Cancer Center, University of California San Diego; John Bell, PhD of Ottawa Hospital, Research Institute, Canada; Arnob Banerjee, MD, PhD, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine; and Fan Yang, PhD, of Stanford School of Medicine, who are using the gene therapy approaches of immunotherapy, oncolytic viruses and non-viral vector gene delivery systems for treatments of brain, lymphoma/leukemia and pediatric brain cancers. Three of the ACGT scientists are focused on basic research while two are engaged in translational research resulting in several clinical trials.

Nationally, Swim Across America has raised more than $60 million in the fight against cancer with swims throughout the United States since its founding in 1987. In Connecticut, the annual Swim Across America event is an open water swim with ½-mile, 1.5-mile and 3-mile options. Proceeds of the fundraising efforts support cancer research grants administered by ACGT.

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 for her eighth year.  Nicole Graham is just finishing her sophomore 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, Arlene and Reuben Mark, and Richards of Greenwich.

While Swim Across America is a national organization and offers dozens of 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 founded Swim Across America.

For swimmers, boaters, kayakers, paddle boarders and land volunteers interested in participating in the June 25, 2016, 10th annual Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford Swim, registration is available at swimacrossamerica.org/greenwich. A pool swim is also available. For more information, email [email protected] or call 203-570-9195.

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 swimacrossamerica.org/greenwich or follow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

SwimAcrossAmerica
Brooke Lorenz of Riverside, Connecticut, will participate in the 10th annual Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford Swim on June 25th. This will be Brooke’s 8th year swimming. Brooke was diagnosed at age 17 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma a few months before graduating from Greenwich High School. Brooke is now celebrating being five years cancer-free at this year’s Swim.

Brooke Lorenz of Riverside, Connecticut, will participate in the 10th annual Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford Swim on June 25th. This will be Brooke’s 8th year swimming. Brooke was diagnosed at age 17 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma a few months before graduating from Greenwich High School. Brooke is now celebrating being five years cancer-free at this year’s Swim.

Lorrie Lorenz of Riverside and Michele Graham of Old Greenwich are the co-chairs for the Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America Swim. Both are mother’s of teenage cancer survivors.

Lorrie Lorenz of Riverside and Michele Graham of Old Greenwich are the co-chairs for the Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America Swim. Both are mother’s of teenage cancer survivors.

Nicole Graham welcomes her brother Clay Graham after he completed last year’s Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America Swim. Nicole is a cancer survivor, being diagnosed and treated for leukemia when she was 16 years old.

Nicole Graham welcomes her brother Clay Graham after he completed last year’s Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America Swim. Nicole is a cancer survivor, being diagnosed and treated for leukemia when she was 16 years old.

 

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