Hundreds of swimmers and volunteers made waves this summer to fight cancer with Swim Across America Fairfield County’s open water swim and multiple pool swims held throughout the summer. More than $450,000 has been raised and that number is still growing as individuals and teams fundraise through the end of the year. All of the proceeds support Swim Across America Fairfield County’s local beneficiary Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, which is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, and the site of the open water swim.
In the past 15 years, Swim Across America has raised close to $4.8 million for Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy. Top fundraising teams this year were: Team Julian, which raised $147,696 and is the swim’s largest team and swims in honor of Greenwich resident Julian Fraser, who sadly passed away at age 20 from osteosarcoma in 2017; Team Julian captain is Peter Carlson of Riverside, who is also the top individual fundraiser and raised more than $44,447 individually. Other top fundraising teams were: CPAC Swimming, raising $15,137 and captained by Douglas Lennox; Sportsplex Stamford Masters, raising $13,844 and led by JJ Worden; Team Eagle Ridge, raising $12,406 and led by Alie Hamilton; and Team W&L, raising $10,883 and captained by Lindsay Stafford. Other top individual fundraisers included Andy Alisberg, who raised $30,442; Cristiana Fraser, co-chair of this year’s swim and mother of Julian Fraser, who raised $12,818; Mark Horgan who raised $8,741; Barbara Hanson with $7,581; and John Merrill with $7,564.
Swim Across America offers 20+ open water swims swims and numerous pool swims across the country, from Boston Harbor to under the Golden Gate Bridge, but its roots are firmly planted in Connecticut, with the organization founded in 1987 by Darien resident Matt Vossler and his college roommate Jeff Keith. Co-chairs of Swim Across America Fairfield County are Nancy Carr and Cristy Fraser, both of Old Greenwich.
Funds raised by Swim Across America Fairfield County go directly to support scientific cancer gene therapy grants administered by the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy. Current Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy research fellows funded by Swim Across America Fairfield County include three world-renowned researchers studying better ways to treat pancreatic cancer, pediatric sarcomas and brain cancer. The researchers are Sidi Chen, PhD (pancreatic cancer), assistant professor Yale University School of Medicine Department of Genetics, System Biology Institute and Cancer Center; Stephen Gottschalk, MD (pediatric sarcomas), chair of the Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and Noriyuki Kasahara, MD, PhD (glioblastoma brain cancer), principal investigator at the Brain Tumor Center at the University of California, San Francisco.
Donations are also still being accepted and can be made at swimacrossamerica.org/fc. To learn more about Swim Across America Fairfield County, visit swimacrossamerica.org/fc or follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @SAAFairfieldCo.
Photography by Cheryl Moss