Jason Muccino, 23, of Chepachet has been swimming laps all summer, something he doesn’t usually do, to prepare for the swim of his life. He feels it’s only fitting after his mother, Mary Lou, fought the battle of her life against cancer. He has raised hundreds of dollars and will swim in honor of his mother, also of Chepachet.
Swimming enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels are invited to join national and local Olympic swimmers at the inaugural Swim Across America-Rhode Island swim to fight cancer on September 11, 2010. The ½ - or 1-mile swim in Narragansett Bay at Roger Wheeler State Beach will raise money for research conducted in the Program in Women’s Oncology at Women & Infants Hospital through gifts collected by swimmers, donations and sponsorships. The event is open to individual swimmers or teams. Swimmers pledge to raise $300 each in donations to enter.
John Morris of Lincoln will participate in the event to honor his daughter Jessie, who died of ovarian cancer in 2008. Although he is not a swimmer, John has formed a team of committed swimmers who will swim as a way to remember Jessie, and who fund raise knowing this is their way to make an impact in the fight against cancer. With a photograph of Jessie projected on the wall at the Rhode Island swim kickoff reception, John shared his daughter’s story and expressed the hope he felt at the sight of so many members of his community rallying against cancer.
Another swimmer, Betsy Bilodeau, will don her wet suit and dive into Narragansett Bay in honor of her sister-in-law, a cancer survivor. The 54-year-old North Dighton, MA, resident recently completed her first triathalon.
“I think it’s a great thing to swim in honor of my mother. I hope it encourages cancer patients to be active,” adds Jason Muccino, who said he will try to push himself to swim the mile. “It’s a challenge for me but it’s for a great cause.”
All are ordinary people doing something quite extraordinary. They are among the first swimmers and teams that signed up for Swim Across America’s first open water swim in Rhode Island.
“Having people who are so willing to jump into the ocean and swim a good distance to raise money for a cause is a powerful statement,” said Dr. Cornelius “Skip” Granai III, director of the Program in Women’s Oncology. “Their lives have been irreparably altered by their loved one’s cancer and they are joining with our researchers to work on a cure. We welcome their help and admire their dedication. We make a powerful team.”
Swim Across America Inc. is a non-profit organization established more than 20 years ago with the mission of raising money for cancer research, prevention and treatment. To date, more than $30 million has been raised through swims held throughout the country, including Boston, Baltimore, Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago. The organization chose Rhode Island for one of its 2010 inaugural events.
After swimmers jump in and complete the swim, they will be welcomed back to the shore by cheering family and friends. The event ends with a closing ceremony with an inspirational guest speaker and an awards ceremony in which Swim Across America will honor some of the top fundraisers and teams.
"Swim Across America is incredibly excited to be coming to Rhode Island this year,” said Janel Jorgensen, a 1988 Olympic silver medalist and the organization’s national executive director. “Rhode Island athletes are a strong community and our greatest hope is that through our swim, we can inspire people to act and join our Swim Across America community. This event brings us one step closer to finding a cure for cancer and that is what motivates us."
For more information or to register for the Swim Across America – Rhode Island event, go to www.swimacrossamerica.org/RI. For more information about the Program in Women’s Oncology at Women & Infants, visit womenandinfants.org.