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Mills to host 15th annual cancer fundraiser Swim a Mile this weekend

Swimmers will swim one mile in Mills College’s Trefethen Aquatic Center, pictured above, for the fundraiser Swim A Mile. Swimmers will have to complete 36 laps for their mile in in the Olympic-size pool. (Campanil Staff)

Mills is hosting the 15th annual Swim A Mile on Saturday October 2nd and Sunday October 3rd to help raise money for the Women’s Cancer Resource Center.

The event will consist of a mile long swim with over 500 people participating as  sponsored swimmers, volunteers, family members and supporters of the cause.

“This event supports work that we do,” said the Center’s Director of Development Pat Bregant. “Over the years, it has turned into a community event to show support for people that have been touched by cancer.”

The event will be held from 12:00 to 5:00 with each swimmer designated a time slot to swim their mile. There will be raffle tickets, a DJ, and food available for all those who wish to participate in the event.

“The event is amazing. I can’t explain the energy,” said Neil Virtue, swim coach and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Advisor at Mills. Virtue has been working at Mills and participating in the event for 9 years.

Last year, the event brought in $285,000, 30% of the women’s cancer research budget. 

This year’s goal is for each swimmer to raise around $350.

“This is the perfect kind of event Mills should support,” said Mills Aquatics Coordinator Carol Berendsen. “It’s not just about this kind of cancer or that kind. It addresses all aspects.”

There will be a memory wall for people to write the names of whom they have lost or who they are honoring. People come to Mills from across the Bay Area from San Jose to Sonoma. Pearl Pangkey will be flying in from Chattanooga, Tennessee for her 9th year swimming for Swim A Mile.

“There’s a wide range of sizes, ages, and backgrounds. It’s a real supportive environment of people that have been touched by cancer one way or another,” said Bregant.

The Women’s Cancer Resource Center was created in Oakland in 1986 by 20 women with cancer hoping to advocate change in women’s health care. The center has grown to around 87 people, most of whom are volunteers offering information help lines, multicultural outreach programs, various forums and workshops and other services for women diagnosed with cancer.

Members of the Mills swim team also plan to participate in Swim A Mile. The team is currently hosting a clinic before the event to help swimmers prepare for the mile.

Samantha Sahnow, a senior and fourth year swimmer for the team, is swimming for her fourth time in the event.

“It’s a really powerful event,” said Sahnow. “There are so many people that come to support.”