With the sound of ’80s and ’90s music pulsing in the background, Mills and Bay Area community members backstroked, front-crawled, butterflied and doggie paddled their way to raise money for cancer research on the weekend of Oct. 1-2.
Held at Trefethen Aquatic Center, it was the 10th annual Women’s Cancer Resource Center Swim A Mile. Swimmers used everything from fins to goggles, swim caps to kickboards, to help them complete their mile. Volunteers and participants alike chatted and cheered each other on as an announcer kept a running commentary on the names of the individuals that completed their mile, who they were swimming in honor of, the time it took them to complete the mile and how many years they had participated in Swim A Mile.
By 3 p.m. on Sunday, participants had raised $182,000, according to Peggy McGuire, executive director of WCRC. McGuire, who said this is her first Swim A Mile, was confident that the fundraiser would reach the goal of $250,000. “I’m assured by people who’ve been involved in past swims that the money continues to come in significantly for several months afterwards.”
Participants, volunteers, friends and family attached slips of paper to the “Memory Wall” with the names of those they wished to honor.
Ruth Lopez, the mother of a participant, said that she overcame cancer three years ago. She beamed as she added her homemade sign reading, “Ruth Lopez, cancer free” to the many names already lovingly attached to the Memory Wall.
As swimmers readied themselves before hitting the water, some wrote the names of family, friends and colleagues whom they were swimming in honor of on various parts of their body. Roxanne Bowers, of Livermore, Calif., proudly sported “Mom” on her left shoulder, “Bonnie” on her right, and the names of two childhood friends on her legs. “They’re giving me the fuel to go,” she said.
George Miller, Sarah Fisher and their 8-year old twin daughters, Hannah and Kate, swam as a team – each swimming a quarter of the mile. They offered words of encouragement to each other as they took turns swimming laps. Fisher, who has participated in Swim A Mile for the past two years, said they were swimming in memory of her mother, as well as various friends who have been affected by cancer. “We get to help raise money, and it’s for a wonderful cause,” she said. Hannah and Kate were very enthusiastic in particular; Kate shook a noisemaker in time with her exclamations of, “Go, Daddy, Go!” while Hannah, with a large grin on her face, announced, “I’ll do half a mile next year.”
Enthusiasm like Hannah’s is an important aspect of the Swim A Mile for WCRC’s McGuire. “It’s all about feeling good. That’s one of the things I’ve learned in this job: how important it is to celebrate life in these events,” she said. “Yeah, they’re fundraisers, but they’re ways that people come together to express their gratitude for being together still or for the help they’ve gotten. That’s pretty powerful.”
For information on the Women’s Cancer Resource Center, or how to help with other WCRC fundraisers, visit www.wcrc.org