Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Count Your Blessings...

(Editor's note: This is part of a newspaper story Your Humble Scribe wrote last week about the local swim team's efforts to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society. We think this story demonstrates both how lucky & thankful one can be at the same time.)

Claire grabbed her goggles and pulled them down over her eyes. Listening intently to her swim coach, the 6th-grader made adjustments and barely glanced at the white board where the morning practice was scrawled.

The set called for 100 laps. That’s 2,500 meters; almost two miles.

Claire, 11, wasn’t particularly concerned about the difficult practice ahead. She snapped her goggles strap, to make sure they wouldn’t slip, and slid into the pool. Pretty soon she was churning up the water, a big grin on her face, splashing the coaches when she executed her backstroke flip turns.

An hour later, Claire was out of the pool and enjoying bagels and cream cheese with her teammates. She and 40 others—including three dads and two coaches—who completed the first morning practice had a lot to be proud of.

They were well on their way to earning more than $7,000 for the day.

Close to 100 members of the summer swim team participated in the local Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s yearly swim-a-thon on last Wednesday. And out of all of the six area summer swim clubs that participated in the event this summer, our team raised the most money—at press time, $7,008.08 cents, to be exact.

“I do a lot for the Society,” said Claire, relaxing after her tough workout. “It feels really good to do something for them, because I know they’d do the same for me.”

Claire is a leukemia survivor. The girl who likes to swim backstroke “more than anything” contracted the disease just before entering kindergarten. Claire has been cancer-free for three-and-a-half years.

Claire’s mother, Dorothy, helped collect the money that the swimmers raised during the swim-a-thon and through a bake sale and sno-cone booth that were set up during swim meets this summer. The club also had a collection jar at the front desk for last-minute donations. Hence, organizers said, the eight cents in change as part of the total donations.

Over the last six years, “We’ve benefited from many of their [the society’s] programs,” Claire's mom said. “Their Back-to-School program was very helpful to Claire,” who missed most of kindergarten and underwent three-and-a-half years of chemotherapy to fight the disease.

The local chapter of the society, which funds research of blood cancers and family support programs for those who have the disease, sponsors swim-a-thons every summer. The organizers at our pool said that donations were still coming in several days after the pool held its swim-a-thon.

“We figured we have 175 swimmers [on the team] and we guessed 80 or so would swim,” said the mom who organized the event this year. “If they raised $50 each, we’d get about $4,000. I think it’s overwhelming,” she said, “that the first year we did this we were so successful.” She said that much of the reason for the swim-a-thon success was that team members wanted to support Claire, who is one of their own.

“I’m so proud of the team and the community spirit we have,” the team's coach said. “I just think it’s all so amazing.”

Claire, too, was thrilled to be able to do something for an organization that has done so much for her and her family over the last six years. Claire, who started swimming three years ago as part of her rehabilitation, said she was proud to be part of the fundraising effort.

“I had always liked swimming, and thought this was a good way to get into sports,” said Claire, who captured first- and second-place ribbons in the backstroke in two recent meets.

“We were thrilled that Claire had the energy to join the swim team,” said her mom, Dorothy. “She’s so excited about all this. This is government in action, right?”


Genny said...

That is a sweet story! And what a good cause!

Lynda said...

Hooray for Claire and the rest of the team!


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