photos courtesy Kurt Loeffler Photography
By Mike Watkins//Correspondent
.Long-time USA Swimming corporate partner Phillips 66 has been a sponsor since 1973 and involved in the sport overall for seven decades. Today, Phillips 66 believes they can improve lives through energy, and in that spirit, usaswimming.org is highlighting swimmers of all levels who have benefited from Phillips 66's contribution and chosen to give back to the sport of swimming or to their community.
Christine Sinnott believes the 17th annual Swim A Mile for Women with Cancer event is magical in the way it brings out hundreds of people of all ages and backgrounds to the pool to show their support for others dealing with cancer, both personally and peripherally.
This year’s event, which happens the first weekend in October (6-7) at the Mills College pool in Oakland, Calif., is expected to welcome in excess of 600 participants. Swimmers pay a small registration fee and then raise money from their friends and family to support their swim. All proceeds benefit the Women's Cancer Resource Center (WCRC).
The development manager and Swim A Mile coordinator for the WCRC, Sinnott said many of the participants have been touched in some way by cancer and believe in doing something to raise money and awareness for cancer support services and care.
“Some of our swimmers and water-walkers have been through the cancer experience themselves and swim to celebrate their own recovery,” Sinnott said. “Some are currently in treatment while others honor loved ones who are living with cancer or who have died.”
She added that most people participate on the swim weekend itself while others who can't swim or can't make it at the last minute set up an alternate event and continue to fundraise.
Several past swimmers who have moved away either time their vacation in the Bay Area to coincide with the event so that they can continue to participate, or swim their laps long distance, at the YMCA in Philadelphia, for example.
The funds raised support the WCRC, a not-for-profit agency in Oakland. The WCRC has been providing free services for women with cancer in a non-clinical setting since 1986.
Special programs are offered to women who face barriers in access to care, including an in-home support program, information and referral helpline, peer-led support groups, financial assistance, free therapy and wellness programming, such as yoga and nutrition classes.
“The WCRC has served more than 85,000 people in its 26-year history and many cancer service providers emerged from WCRC's initial pioneering efforts,” Sinnott said. “The center also participates in numerous community-based collaborations, coalitions and research projects to offer a broader web of information, support and services to women throughout the Bay Area.”
The Swim A Mile funds between 25 and 30 percent of the WCRC's annual budget. Most clients are women, though support services are offered by extension to their family members, who include men and children. The Swim does a great deal every year of keeping WCRC visible in the community and making more people aware of the services offered.
Sinnott said she hopes to raise between $375,000 and $400,000 – which would be a new high – at this year’s event
“Last year we had 601 swimmers, and if this year's registration benchmarks match last year's, we're looking at about 550,” Sinnott said. “In 2010, we had 450 swimmers, but last year was WCRC's 25th anniversary, so it was unusually large.”
To learn more about the Swim A Mile for Women with Cancer, check out this video promoting the event: http://vimeo.com/30450886. To make a donation to the event, visit http://www.wcrc.org/swim.