On Saturday, June 24, 2017, more than 200 swimmers and 100 land volunteers, boaters and kayakers will make waves in the fight to defeat cancer in the 11th annual Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford Swim. The Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America event is held on the border of Old Greenwich and Stamford, Connecticut, at 96 Cummings Point Road, Stamford, that is home to the Swim’s beneficiary, the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT).
Each year, the Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America Swim grows with more swimmers, more volunteers and more money raised in the fight to defeat cancer. This year, Swim Across America is seeing more local high school swim teams and their coaches signing up, such as Greenwich High School swim team coaches Terry Lowe and Lorrie Hokayem who are leading Team Julian, as well as Darien High School swim coach Marjorie Trifone with Team Blue Wave Swim & Dive. Teams are also a big part of the Greenwich-Stamford Swim with more than 20 teams already registered. One of the largest teams is Team Julian, with members swimming in honor of Julian Fraser, a 2014 Greenwich High School graduate and captain of the GHS swim and water polo teams, who sadly passed away earlier this year after an eleven month battle with cancer. Julian’s father Alec Fraser will be the honored speaker at this year’s Swim.
“A very big and very moving part of the Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford Swim is hearing the stories of ‘Why I Swim’ or ‘Why I Volunteer’ from our participants,” noted Michele Graham, one of the co-chairs of the event and the mother of a teenage cancer survivor. Michele’s daughter Nicole, also a 2014 Greenwich High School graduate, is a leukemia survivor. Lorrie Lorenz, the other co-chair, is also the mother of a teenage cancer survivor with her daughter Brooke, who was diagnosed with lymphoma her senior year of high school. Brooke will be celebrating six years of being cancer-free at this year’s Swim.
In this one-year alone, 1,688,780 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed and there will be 600,920 cancer deaths in the U.S. 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.
Tori Dinkel of Ridgefield, Connecticut, one of the Swim’s top fundraisers and a swimmer that has participated all 11 years of the Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America event, sums up her “Why I Swim” this way:
“W is for Wetsuits - who doesn’t look cool in a wetsuit!
His for hundred percent! 100% of donations received by ACGT go directly to cancer research!
Y is for Yale University and the innovative lab being used to research new treatments for blood cancers.
I is for immune therapy and RNA that might be the answer and funds are needed to figure that out.
S is for Dr. Samuel Katz at Yale University, an ACGT Swim Across America grant recipient - Sam, you’ve got this!
W is for Wavemakers - my team - and a fabulous group to be a part of.
I is for I want to make a difference!
M is for Mather Hospital, Dr. Vacirca and all of the people who helped my Mom, Catherine Clark.”
For Kate Pollock, a land volunteer this year, the reason she volunteers is even more personal. On September 11, 2015, Kate was diagnosed with breast cancer — only a few months after her twin sister’s same diagnosis. At that time, her son was just five months old and her daughter had just turned four years old. Kate states that she is “not just a cancer survivor, but a thriver.” In 2015 and 2016, she underwent four biopsies, a lumpectomy and a month of radiation. For the next five years, she will take medication to help prevent metastasis of the cancer. Kate says that, “while the road hasn’t been filled with roses and confetti, I made it through what will hopefully be the hard part and now I’m doing great.” Kate is volunteering in honor of fellow survivors — her sister Liza Pollock, her Mom Martha Brandt-Pollock, friends Susan Carver, Nicole Magaldi, Alexis El Sayed, Meredith Fein Lichtenberg and cousin Gina Zinn. She is also volunteering in memory of her friend Patty Hewitt’s Mom, Darlene Catherine Nock.
Andy Alisberg of Greenwich is swimming with the team Peter’s Defeaters. Andy has four reasons why he is swimming: “1) Over the past 12 months, cancer has continued to intrude on the universe of people I know and about whom I care, including 26 year old Vietor Evans (a classmate of my daughter Katie since nursery school), my grad school suite mate Paul Stuka, our friend Robin Zorthian, and another friend who prefers to remain anonymous. 2) The memory of those wonderful friends whom we have lost to cancer in recent years burns bright and I again remember Peter Hinrichs, Wendy Landes, Jim Phelan, Holly Pressman, and Katha Diddel Sussman. I think of these people all the time. 3) There is a list that is way too long of friends who continue their battles,- Joe, Bob, Meline, Stacey, Fran, Scott, Linda, Doug, Robin, Ann, Chris, and Ronni. 4) I am inspired by the eloquent and moving words of our friend Meline Dickson, who kicked off the 2016 Swim by addressing the assemblage and recounting her story of how she learned that she was afflicted and how she has faced her challenges. It is important to note that Meline, as well as others I have mentioned, is a beneficiary of the type of immunotherapy research that the Greenwich/Stamford Swim Across America and the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy funds. Last year, my son Will joined me and he is eagerly participating this year. Thanks to the generosity of you, our generous and kind friends, we raised over $25,000 last year.”
With this being the Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America’s 11th year, the event has in past years:
- Raised more than $3.1 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 1,881 swimmers to swim in Long Island Sound making waves to #defeatcancer
- Included swimmers ages six to 82!
- Had the help of 950 land, beach and sea volunteers
- Swam 2,500+ total miles
The Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America event has supported the research of several ACGT-funded scientists. This year’s Swim will support Dr. Samuel Katz, an assistant professor of pathology at Yale University who is studying the use of immunotherapy using RNA to attack cancer cells in blood cancers; and Dr. Crystal Mackall, associate director of Stanford Cancer Institute, the director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Stanford, and director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Program, Department of Pediatrics at Stanford Cancer Center, who is using the ACGT Swim Across America grant to focus on immunotherapy to treat osteosarcoma.
Nationally, Swim Across America has raised more than $65 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.
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 those that aren’t able to swim or volunteer, there is a way to Shop to Support Swim Across America. The following stores in Greenwich, Riverside and Old Greenwich are all donating a portion of sales to the Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America event.
Throughout the month of June, shop at:
J. Hilburn - shop during the whole month of June and Nancy Carr, personal stylist with J. Hilburn, will donate 10% of the month’s sales to Swim Across America — http://www.nancycarr.jhilburn.com
On June 22nd, shop at:
SPLURGE Gifts - 39 Lewis Street, Greenwich: 3-6 pm, 10% of sales go to Swim Across America
Claudette - 177 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich, CT: 10% of sales go to Swim Across America
DiMare Pastry Shop - 1245 E. Putnam Avenue, Riverside, CT: 10% of sales from June 22nd go to Swim Across America
Lily Pulitzer - 92 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, CT: 4-7 pm, 10% of sales go to Swim Across America
Vineyard Vines - 145 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, CT: 4-7pm, 10% off all merchandise from 4-7 pm and 10% of sales go to Swim Across America
On June 29, shop at:
Lily - 250 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich, CT: Thursday, June 29, 3-7 pm, stop by Lily in Old Greenwich for Lily shoes and accessories and a J. Hilburn menswear trunk show. Lily will donate 10% of the sales from the event and J. Hilburn will donate 10% of sales for the whole month of June.