LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Each summer for the last 19 years, thousands of volunteer swimmers have been diving into Long Island Sound and dozens of local swimming pools for ‘Swim Across America-Long Island Sound – helping to change the lives of those stricken with cancer. The 2011 fundraising “swims” began in June with local pool meets and will be highlighted on July 30 when hundreds fill The Sound for the 19th Long Island Open Swim off the shores of Larchmont.
“We’ve grown so much over nearly 20 years, with thousands participating in helping to raise more than $10 million,” SAALIS spokesperson Jim Smith said. “The Long Island Sound Swim is the biggest fundraiser, but the local swims are so important to the effort and have done so much to raise funding and awareness.”
The Long Island Sound Swim started in Larchmont in 1992 at the Larchmont Yacht Club with a four-mile swim. It is dedicated to the memory of Kathy Webers, who along with family and friends courageously battled cancer for over a year. The 1992 Swim included 35 swimmers and raised $15,000. The 2010 included 600 swimmers and raised over $1,027,000. Local swims have already been held at the Saxon Woods Poll in White Plains, the New York Athletic Club in Pelham, the Westchester Country Club in Rye and the Lakeside Field Club in South Salem. Upcoming pool swims will be held at Orienta Beach Club in Mamaroneck on July 23, Lake Isle Country Club in Eastchester (August 6) and Clarkstown Pool Swim in Rockland County on August 14.
Smith said the “recent thrilling news” is that funding has helped contribute to the development of a revolutionary new drug for treating Melanoma (skin cancer) and introduced into the market. SAALIS has long supported the cancer research labs at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and now, under the direction of Dr. Jedd Wolchok of the Swim Across America Lab, the drug Yervoy is available.
“This is a momentous event for our patients as well as us,” Wolchok said. “The drug has extended survival of 20 to 30% of patients with advanced Melanoma, but that isn’t enough, we want to benefit 100%.”
Proceeds from the SAALIS swims go to the Cancer Support Team serving lower Westchester, the Tommy Palazzo Fellowship at Columbia University, at the Morgan Stanle Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian Medical Center, the DeMatteo Research and Swim Across America Laboratories at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. To join Swim Across America and make a difference in the fight against cancer, visit the website listed below and learn how you can make your participation count. Organize a team, sponsor a swimmer, take a Journal ad or simply make a donation in honor or memory of someone. To register, donate and/or sponsor a swimmer, visit our website: www.swimacrossamerica.org/longisland. For donations, make checks payable to Swim Across America, PO Box 217, Larchmont, NY 10538