(CHICAGO) — Swim Across America (SAA), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for cancer research, prevention and treatment through swimming events across the country, will host its 20th annual SAA Chicago event Saturday, July 20, at Ohio Street Beach in Chicago.
The fundraiser benefits the Rush University Cancer Center, which comprises all of the clinical, research and educational efforts at Rush University Medical Center. The Chicago swim aims to raise $400,000 this year after raising $315,000 in 2012.
"What Swim Across America has achieved in Chicago and around the country is incredible,” said David McClellan, SAA-Chicago event co-chair. “We always set our sights high, but we expect a record-breaking 2013 event in hopes of funding groundbreaking cancer research at Rush.”
McClellan expects as many as 10 former Olympians to swim in the event. Swimmers must raise a minimum of $500 in order to participate in the ½-mile, 1-mile, 1.5-mile or 3-mile course. They may swim individually or as part of a team to honor friends and family who have been touched by cancer.
This year, SAA is extending its Chicago event lineup through the addition of the inaugural Swim Across Lake Michigan event. The first 14 swimmers who raise more than $2,500 can take part in Swim Across Lake Michigan, a relay swim event that begins at Ohio Street Beach at midnight July 20 and ends roughly 17 hours later in Michiana, Mich.
Chicago joins cities such as Boston, Dallas and San Francisco, along with the New York metropolitan area, in hosting swim events. SAA events have raised more than $45 million for cancer research nationwide. Swim Across America is unique among cancer fundraising events in that money raised at each event benefits the host location, giving swimmers an opportunity to directly impact their communities.
“As an orthopedic oncology nurse, I see firsthand the overwhelming life changes that patients go through when they have been diagnosed with cancer and are undergoing treatment,” said Patti Piasecki, RN, captain of the Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush/Rush Cancer Center team that is participating in the event. “It’s always heart-warming to see patients get back to their normal lives and to put cancer behind them. That’s why I’m excited to join Swim Across America and some of our past cancer patients to raise money to cure cancer.”
The Rush University Cancer Center fosters research across four broad programs that aim to deepen our understanding of cancer in order to better prevent, detect and treat it. These programs include cancer biology; clinical, behavioral and translational research; molecular signatures and cancer outcomes; and tumor immunology.
Last year, SAA provided $100,000 for a Rush study examining how adjusting intestinal vitamin D receptors can potentially prevent colon cancer. In addition, $133,500 was used to help fund a trial testing the effectiveness of the vaccine CAVTAK for the treatment of stage III and stage IV malignant melanoma. Rush is one of five international sites participating in the trial. Registered swimmers can attend a cocktail mixer June 19 at Rush, where they’ll more about how the proceeds from their fundraising are being used at Rush for cancer research.
“We are excited to partner with Swim Across America to benefit not only cancer patients but also our ongoing research, which is so critical,” said Dr. James Mulshine, vice president of research at Rush. “The money raised through this event will provide hope for future treatments.”
To register for the swim or make a donation, visit www.SWIMACROSSAMERICA.ORG/CHICAGO.