SWIMMERS MAKE WAVES IN FIGHT AGAINST CANCER
5th ANNUAL SWIM ACROSS AMERICA
GREENWICH-STAMFORD SWIM SCHEDULED FOR JUNE 25
Swimmers of All Levels Welcome (Recreational, Professional & Olympic)
(STAMFORD, Conn., April 11, 2011) - The fifth annual SWIM ACROSS AMERICA GREENWICH - STAMFORD SWIM, held Saturday, June 25, 2011, is making a big splash for cancer research, prevention and treatment. Swimmers at any level are invited to participate. Swim Across America holds numerous swimming events throughout the United States each year. This is the fifth anniversary of the Greenwich-Stamford Swim, that has generated $700,000 in donations specifically for the local beneficiary, the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT), the nation's only non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to funding cancer cell and gene therapy research. This year's Swim hopes goal is to bring the five year total to more than $1 million. ACGT is headquartered on the Greenwich/Stamford border and serves as the start and finish line for the Swim. There will be four options for swimmers: a half-mile course, a 1.5 mile course, a 3-mile or 5-mile challenge. Participants must register at http://www.swimacrossamerica.org by clicking on the Greenwich-Stamford Swim link."It's wonderful to be celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America Open Water Swim," said Matt Vossler, co-founder of Swim Across America, and a Darien, Conn., resident. "And it is even more incredible to see how this event has grown - we have many swimmers who come back year after year, and each time, they bring more friends to swim with them. Last year we had 200 swimmers; this year, we hope to have 300. With every stroke each swimmer makes, it's a chance to save a life through the promise of cancer research and treatment." Swimmers range in age from pre-teens, all the way to those in their 80's. "We are also honored to have with us this year some former Olympic swimmers, such as Craig Beardsley, 1980 Olympic Swim Team; Donna de Varona, 1960 and 1964 Olympic gold medalist; and Bobby Hackett, 1976 Olympic silver medalist," noted Janel Jorgensen, president of Swim Across America, who is herself a 1988 Olympic silver medalist. Jorgensen is also excited about swimming again in Long Island Sound as she grew up in nearby Ridgefield, Conn. "Many of our swimmers are either cancer survivors or have been touched by cancer in some way - either personally or by someone they know," noted Matt Vossler. "Those who participate are truly inspirational." Vossler went on to note that one such swimmer, who plans to swim for the fifth year in the Greenwich-Stamford Swim, is Old Greenwich resident Karen Newman, who has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer for the past four years. Others include Nick Fernandez who swam with five of his family members in 2010 and was successfully treated for leukemia; Roberta Bass of Greenwich, who grappled with uterine cancer in 2006; and the 20+ members of "Team Kicking Cancer for Karen, Chris and Friends" who swim for Karen O'Brien, her brother-in-law, and friends who have been touched by cancer. Connecticut natives Matt Vossler and his lifelong friend and college roommate, Jeff Keith, founded Swim Across America in 1987. The first Swim Across America event in Connecticut was the first swim in the area dedicated to raising funds for cancer research. The events are part of a national organization that for 24 years has rallied fundraising efforts for cancer research and treatment through open-water and pool swims in cities including Greenwich, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Nashville, New York, Rhode Island, San Francisco, Dallas, and Seattle. Each Swim has its own distinct personality. "You can swim under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, or join NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) swimmers at Nantasket Beach, or even compete with Olympians in Greenwich and Boston Harbor," said Vossler. Donations to this year's Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford Swim will go towards funding an ACGT Investigator Grant for a Phase I clinical trial for leukemia and lymphoma. Dr. Thomas Kipps, professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, and director of research at Moores UCSD Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, is the 2011 Swim Across America Grant Designate. ACGT is proud to support a second round of study to further determine the impact of immune-mediated gene therapy for intractable B-cell Leukemia. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common form of the disease in adults in Western societies and is considered incurable. Ten to 20 percent of newly diagnosed patients and more than 50% of relapsed patients have limited or no response to treatment, which leads to a poor prognosis for survival. Dr. Kipps' research has found the potential to sensitize leukemia cells to cell death. Preliminary findings have been very positive. The first patients who completed the proposed treatment course in the trial achieved a complete response. "Dr. Kipps' research has great potential," noted Margaret Cianci, executive director of the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT). Cianci went on to say, "It is so meaningful that we can take the money contributed to the Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford event and continue to fund the grant for Dr. Kipps' work - and see such promising results in the clinical trial. The clock is ticking to find a cure for cancer and for Swim Across America to support ACGT, which is on the leading edge of finding a cure, is exciting." Returning this year as honorary co-chairs for the Greenwich/Stamford Swim are Olympic swimming champion Donna de Varona and husband John Pinto; Cindy and John Sites; Reuben and Arlene Mark; and new co-chairs, Mary Henry and Howard Rubin, all of Greenwich. The 5th Annual Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America event will take place on Saturday, June 25, 2011. Each participant in the ½-mile and 1.5 mile swims are required to raise a minimum of $500 (swimmers under the age of 18 have a $300 minimum); swimmers in the 3-mile challenge must raise $3,000, and those in the 5-mile challenge must raise $5,000. Volunteer opportunities for boaters, kayakers and land volunteers are also available. For more information, visit www.swimacrossamerica.org or email Jacque Lang at Jacque@swimacrossamerica.org.