Friday, July 19, 2013

Making waves


JUMP FOR JOY: Kitty Tetreault, SAA event director for Boston and Rhode Island, second from left, joins former Olympic swimmers Kristy Kowal; Heather Petri; and Brooke Bennett at the start of the event. 

On July 12, 80 swimmers – alongside former Olympic athletes – plunged into Boston Harbor, braving the cold, choppy waters to raise money for pediatric cancer programs and research as part of the 20th annual Swim Across America (SAA) event. The 22-mile relay swim was part of a three-day benefit that raised nearly $350,000 for the MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) Cancer Center and the David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 

This marked MGHfC’s first year partnering with SAA, a nonprofit organization that raises money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment through community-driven open-water and pool swims in cities across the country.

The event began at MGHfC on July 11 with a special visit from Olympic swimmers Brook Bennett, Kristi Kowal, Janel Jorgensen McArdle and Heather Petri. Pediatric cancer patients were delighted to touch their Olympic medals and peppered the women with questions about their Olympic competitions. Howard Weinstein, MD, chief of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, surprised the athletes with MGH Boston Marathon team medals, making the women honorary members of the Mass General Marathon Team “Fighting Kids’ Cancer … One Step at a Time.” 


 Michael Lenihan helped to guide less experienced swimmers



“Our new partnership with Swim Across America is off to a fantastic start,” Weinstein said. “We are very grateful to the swimmers, volunteers and Olympians for their commitment to our childhood cancer program at MGHfC.”

The Olympians led the first dip into the Boston Harbor at Rowes Wharf for advanced swimmers. On July 13, they led another 125 swimmers into the waters of Nantasket Beach for easier half-mile and one-mile swims. 

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