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Swim Across America group has raised $17 million to fight cancer

When it comes to cancer, there are countless horrible stories. Tragic. Every day brings another.

But there are inspiring stories, too: A 76-year-old man swims two kilometers with his Sloan Kettering oncologist kayaking alongside him. The man had earlier been told he had 30 days to live but his oncologist had a radically different idea. And so he lived, celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary and swam so others could live, too.

This was just a few years ago in Long Island Sound during one of the local Swim Across America (SAA) events that have helped save the lives of those with cancer for 25 years.

On July 29, the eighth of nine 2017 Long Island Sound-area SAA events — and the only one actually scheduled for the Sound (others are held in pools in Westchester and Manhattan) —  attracted 300 volunteers and 500 swimmers ready to swim 2K, 5K and 10K routes.

Rough waters forced them into pools at the start and finish areas – the Larchmont Yacht Club and Larchmont Shore Club.

Teams pay $5,000 to enter and individuals $500 for the Sound swims. The pool swims cost $500 per adult/$250 per child.

Those fees have added up to a ton of money and, in turn, hope over the years.

With a final swim at Lake Isle Country Club in Eastchester slated for this Saturday, organizers estimate they’ve already raised $1.1 million for 2017, their high-water mark after several years at about $1 million.

This year’s swims will boost the overall amount raised locally during the event’s history to $17 million-plus.

As in recent years, some of this year’s funds will go to a Swim Across America cancer lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering; to Columbia Presbyterian children’s cancer research and to the Westchester-based Cancer Support Team, which provides everything from information services to transportation for cancer patients.

Nationally, Swim Across America events have raised more than $70 millionsince their inception in 1987.

Josh Glantz of Scarsdale and his twin brother, Jeremy, of Chappaqua began the local event in 1992.

The two, now 49, grew up in Hartsdale, swam for Ardsley High School, then Princeton and coached the Larchmont Yacht Club summer swim team for four years where they met Frank and Kathy Webers and their three swimming daughters.

In 1991, Kathy succumbed to brain cancer at age 42, after the brothers had left coaching.

Channel-surfing one day soon after, Josh Glantz stumbled on a show about people swimming in the Long Island Sound to fund cancer research.

He contacted the group and discovered it had moved its swims to Nantucket Sound, but allowed Glantz to put together his own Swim Across America event off Westchester.

That first year, Josh Glantz asked 10-12 friends to participate. Seventeen people showed up to swim on a cold, windy day. Ignoring Harbor Patrol and Coast Guard orders to leave the rough surf, they swam three miles off Larchmont and raised $7,000. Frank Webers contributed an extra $5,000.

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