Women’s Cancer Resource Center hosts 16th annual Swim A Mile fundraiser at Mills College
on October 3, 2011
Pompoms, disco-ball necklaces and plenty of waterproof garb adorned the crowd at the Women’s Cancer Resource Center’s 16th annual Swim A Mile fundraiser this weekend. Cancer survivors, their supporters, center staff and others swam laps in support of the center’s services, while spectators waved homemade signs and cheered encouragement.
“Today’s event was great—they do a fabulous job,” said 14-time participant and Walnut Creek resident Beverly Dubrin, still sporting her multicolored one-piece after drying off from her swim. “It’s just a good, inspiring thing to do.”
The annual Swim A Mile event accounts for 25 percent of the organization’s funds, and this year’s event at Mills College proved to be a success, according to organizers. “We’re way over anything we’ve ever done before in terms of numbers of swimmers and money raised,” said Meridithe Mendehlson, president of the center’s board of directors. “Our goal is about $350,00, and as most people know in this economic climate, our funding from donors as well as foundations has decreased. In order to provide these services, there’s got to be a way for us to raise the money and that’s how we do it—through this swim.”
Sponsors were encouraged to contribute any amount they could—their donations will be used to fund the center’s education and support services. According to the organization’s website, a $25 contribution could be used to buy art supplies for the cultural healing and arts program, while $1,000 could fund an entire support group for women with metastic cancer. Individual swimmers were required to raise a minimum of $350, families and small teams brought in $600, and teams of six or more took in at least $1,500 per group.
The Women’s Cancer Resource Center has been providing programs and services such as support groups and psychotherapy to women with cancer, free of charge, since 1986. The center also offers complimentary yoga, meditation and cooking classes to the entire community.
This year’s swim carried special significance as it also marked the organization’s 25th anniversary. “It’s just a fabulous opportunity for people to honor those who’ve died from cancer, honor those who are currently going through cancer treatment and to think about ways they can prevent cancer,” Mendehlson said. “One of those ways is through exercise and swimming.”
By Friday, 578 swimmers had registered for the event and the center had already raised about $285,000. According to executive director Peggy McGuire, donations are expected to roll in through December as swimmers collect pledged contributions. Donors can also continue contributing to the center through WCRC’s online donation system.
This year, swimmers had the opportunity to participate in what the center called its one-on-one “Lifesaver Program.” Participants were paired with past Swim A Mile veterans who could offer support in their fundraising and training efforts. “This year we focused quite a bit on our former swimmers,” Mendehlson said. “Before, we really spent a lot of time trying to recruit new swimmers, but we realized we have a huge component of people who are returning and if we encourage them, then they would be likely to inform others about it because they’ve committed in the past.”
As swimmers emerged from the pool, they embraced family by the sidelines, danced to the upbeat music blasting from the speakers and re-energized with healthy salads and sweet treats like pumpkin pie. Dubrin chatted with friends and staffers and smiled at her success. “At this point, I’ve raised well over $3,000, just from friends, family, people I know,” Dubrin said, “and I’m delighted.”
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