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Annual Swim Across America



Swimmers (Recreational, Professional & Olympic) Unite to Raise Funds and Awareness for Cancer Research, Prevention and Treatment



The third annual SWIM ACROSS AMERICA GREENWICH TO STAMFORD SWIM is ready to make a big splash in the area for cancer research, prevention and treatment.  The Swim, held Saturday, June 27, 2009, will start at the beach at Greenwich (Tod’s) Point with participants swimming along the shore of Long Island Sound in either a rigorous 1.5 mile swim or a half-mile swim (geared for swimmers ages 12 and older) to Dolphin Cove in Stamford, Conn.  The Swim Across America event raises funds for the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT), the nation’s only non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to funding cancer gene therapy research.  ACGT is based in Stamford and its headquarters are the finish line for the swim.  Swimmers dive in at 8:00 a.m., Saturday, June 27, and all participants must register at <> by clicking on the Greenwich Swim link.
“Swim Across America is making waves to fight cancer,” noted Matt Vossler, chairman of the board of Swim Across America.  “We are proud of the fact than this will be Swim Across America’s 23rd year of raising funds for cancer research and the events have grown to hold dozens of swims all over the country, each with its own distinct personality. You can swim under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, or swim with NESCAC conference swimmers at Nantasket Beach, or even with Olympians in Greenwich and Boston Harbor.  Swim Across America began as a grassroots organization with events developing organically. Now, those events each raise hundreds of thousands of dollars; money raised is given to local beneficiaries, which happen to be some of the best in the world. Now, we are bringing Swim Across America events to the whole country, from coast to coast.”
Swim Across America was founded in 1987 by Connecticut natives Matt Vossler and his lifelong friend and Boston College roommate, Jeff Keith, and was the first swim in the area dedicated to raising funds for cancer research. Swim Across America is a national organization that rallies fundraising efforts for cancer research, prevention and treatment through open-water and pool swim events in cities such as Greenwich, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and other areas.
In the past two years, Swim Across America’s Greenwich/Stamford Swim has raised more than $400,000 for the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT) Young Investigator Award Grant program for treating brain cancer.  The lead researcher and three year grant recipient on the project is Dr. Khalid Shah, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.  Dr. Shah is instrumental in exploring gene therapy alternatives for the treatment of brain tumors.  With so much attention in the news about brain cancer recently, his work takes on a special urgency and there is great optimism that gene therapy will soon revolutionize treatment.
“Swim Across America is so pleased to be able to support the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT) and its unique and promising approach to treating and curing cancer,” noted Janel Jorgensen, executive director of Swim Across America, and a former Olympic swimmer and Silver Medalist.  Jorgensen grew up in Ridgefield, Conn., and spent her summers swimming in the water of Long Island Sound near Greenwich and Stamford.  Jorgensen, like many of the participants, also has a personal connection to wanting to help find a cure for cancer, as she has had family members affected by the disease.  “All of us have a personal drive to help find a cure for cancer; whether it is swimming for a parent, a child, a grandparent or a friend, everyone swims for a reason and that reason is life,” noted Jorgensen.
Returning this year as honorary co-chairs for the Greenwich/Stamford Swim are Cindy and John Sites of Greenwich.  The Sites have supported the Greenwich/Stamford Swim since its inception.  Additionally, Olympic swimming champion Donna de Varona and her husband John Pinto, are also honorary co-chairs of the Greenwich/Stamford Swim.  At age 13, de Varona was a world record holder in the 400 Individual Medley and the youngest member of the 1960 Olympic Games U.S. Swimming Team, which competed in Rome, Italy.   During her career, de Varona set 18 world's fastest times, and in 1964, she returned to the Olympics to capture two gold medals during the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.  Voted the most outstanding female athlete in the world in 1964, de Varona is undeniably one of the most decorated swimmers of her generation.  She is an Emmy award winning sports broadcaster and is currently President of DAMAR Productions, a company specializing in sport documentaries, promos, event development and promotion.  Donna's older brother David de Varona, is a cancer survivor, and she is devoted to the Swim Across America cancer campaign.
Some of last year’s swimmers included cancer survivors or those currently battling cancer, such as Old Greenwich resident and triathlete Karen Newman, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer; Carolina Fernandez of Ridgefield and five of her family members who swam for her son Nick who was treated for leukemia; and Roberta Bass, 58, of Greenwich, who in 2006 grappled with uterine cancer.  Other swimmers are inspirations to everyone, such as Caroline Conrod of Greenwich, who at age seven last summer, was the event’s youngest participant; and Swim Across America co-founder Matt Vossler of Darien who lost a family member to the disease.
Swim Across America has raised more than $25 million for some of the top cancer institutions in the country, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, UCSF Children’s Hospital, the Loyola Cancer Center, and the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT).  With the help of hundreds of volunteers nationwide and many past and current Olympians, Swim Across America is helping find a cure for cancer through athleticism, community outreach and direct service.
The Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT) is the recipient of funds raised by Swim Across America. ACGT was founded by Greenwich residents Barbara and Edward Netter. ACGT believes that cancer gene therapy has the greatest potential to not only improve the quality of life of cancer patients, but to ultimately realize a cure for cancer.
The June 27 Greenwich/Stamford Swim Across America event will begin at 8:00 a.m. at Greenwich (Tod’s) Point and head north toward Dolphin Cove in Stamford. Each participant is required to raise a minimum of $500.  For more information, visit <> or email Jacque Lang at <> .


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