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Community swims for cancer

The Women’s Cancer Resource Center hosted its 16th annual Swim A Mile fundraiser at the Trefethen Aquatic Center. (Alheli Cuenca)

On October 1st and 2nd, the Women’s Cancer Resource Center (WCRC) of Oakland  hosted its 16th annual two-day Swim a Mile fundraising event to benefit women with all types of cancer.

All proceeds go directly to WCRC programs. The WCRC provides a number of support programs for women fighting cancer. All services, such as cancer support planning and wellness workshops, are free of charge.

“We still receive money going into December,” McGuire said. “This fundraiser makes up 25 percent of our annual budget.”

The goal for this year was to raise $300,000 and the organization has raised $350,000 so far.

According to Peggy McGuire, Executive Director of WCRC,  the organization caters to “people who are sick today.” It started 25 years ago when a group of women were diagnosed with cancer and were very upset about the lack of resources available to them. They then started the organization and women researched common questions and “essentially filled gaps” of understanding, McGuire explained.

WCRC has about eight full-time staff members and 90 volunteers. At the first Swim a Mile in 1995, there were 60 swimmers. This year, there were 578.

The event welcomed participants of all ages and skill levels. Each participant received a certificate after they completed the mile. Each swimmer was announced as he or she completed their mile; special note was made of first-time participants.

Father Anthony Chavez and son Levon Keller-Chavez sat at the event making bundles of sage for anyone who walked by.

“Kelly, my wife, has had many cancer scares, and when she found the WCRC for support, we decided to become a part of this program,” Chavez said.

A supporter and not a participant, Chavez has “been out doing this for eight years — since Levon was in kindergarten.”

A wall displayed the names of the individuals that participants were swimming for, and many swimmers wrote the names of loved ones on their bodies.  Posters telling the stories of those who won their battles against cancer, as well stories of defeat, also decorated the wall.

Participant Alex enjoys Swim a Mile each year because it’s a “local organization and you know where the money is going.”

The WCRC hosts several fundraising events throughout the year. On Nov. 9, at the Julia Morgan Theater, the Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre Company will be performing WCRC’s 25th Anniversary Cabaret. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased on the organization’s website