CP Gives Back: Swimming to Raise Awareness and Money for Cancer
By Mike Watkins//Correspondent
Even though he hasn’t lost any family or friends to cancer, like many people, Neil Walker has been confronted with the omnipresence of the disease.
“It’s pretty hard to find anyone who hasn’t been exposed to cancer in some way,” said Walker, a two-time Olympian (2000, 2004). “My grandmother fought breast cancer and beat it more than once, so it’s certainly something I’m aware of.”
Because of this – and because he realizes the importance of raising awareness and supporting causes that fight cancer, Walker and his Rockwall Aquatics Center of Excellence (RACE) team are banding together and bringing in other nearby swimmers and clubs to support Swim Across America.
With the backing of RACE, Swim Across America is hosting its first open water swim event in Dallas Saturday, June 11. Thirteen Olympic swimmers, including gold medalists Josh Davis, Jim Montgomery and Ryan Berube (along with Walker) will join swimmers from all ages, including many cancer survivors, to raise money for Swim Across America.
RACE will host an Olympians clinic – emceed by Davis – the night before the open water swim as another fundraiser for the cause.
Swimmers must raise a minimum of $500 to participate in the ½-mile, 1-mile or 2-mile course at Lake Ray Hubbard, which borders the indoor pool where RACE swimmers train. They may swim individually or as part of a team to honor friends and family who have been touched by cancer.
Swim Across America is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for cancer research, prevention and treatment through swimming events throughout the country.
“We are very excited to bring this swimming event to the Dallas area and to be able to collaborate with such a premier medical institution,” said Janel Jorgensen, Swim Across America president and a silver medalist on the 1988 Olympic team.
“It is important to us that the money raised through this swim stay local, which is why we are so excited about Baylor Simmons Cancer Center, and the impact it will have on cancer patients not only in Dallas, but across the country,” she added.
With the help of hundreds of volunteers nationwide and past and current Olympians, SAA is helping find a cure for cancer through athleticism, community outreach and direct service.
The event benefits the Innovative Clinical Trials Center at the new Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas, the largest outpatient cancer center in North Texas dedicated to cancer care, research and education.
Walker, who, along with two other RACE coaches and most of the club’s senior-level swimmers, will compete in the open water event to raise money, sees great support from the swimming community for this cause.
“We have such a great group of swimmers here in Dallas, many of them former (Texas) Longhorns, Olympians and swimmers of various levels,” said Walker, who started RACE over a year ago and has seen the membership grow to over 230. “It’s easy to get these swimmers motivated to support a cause, especially one as important as cancer.”
RACE members are also working on putting together a local raffle of several watches donated by a local jeweler – all to raise more money for cancer research through Swim Across America.
The addition of Dallas to Swim Across America’s roster of cities brings the total number of open water events nationwide to 13, joining Boston, New York, Baltimore and San Francisco.
“Through the dedication and support of hundreds of volunteers nationwide, and past and current Olympic swimmers, our events have raised more than $30 million to help us realize our mission of finding a cure for cancer,” Jorgensen said.
To learn more about the Swim Across America, Dallas event and how you can “make waves to fight cancer,” please visit www.swimacrossamerica.org/dallas.