Each SAA Swim has a number of teams that bring amazing energy and a sense of community to SAA events. Teams consist of families, friends, colleagues and even people who met through SAA and decided they liked each other so much that they wanted to train and fundraiser together. Each week, Swim Across America will be choosing one team to highlight! A Team selected for "Team of the Week" has shown remarkable energy, committment and strength. Some teams deserve recognition for years of participation, because of the splash they made as a first year team, or because of innovative fundraising ideas. Each winning team will be a featured on facebook and on the SAA site for a full week - announcements are on Tuesdays. Check back weekly to learn about some of SAA's finest. To nomiate a "Team of the Week", email firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out past Teams of the Week
Team mELLENoma - Swim to Live Week of September 19th
"Team mELLENoma-Swim to Live was formed in 2010 to honor Ellen Strother Dierkes who is waging her own private fight with stage four melanoma. Year after year, Ellen has shared her own stories of how she supported John's various cancer swims, the first being his Swim Across America, Long Island Sound swim in 1999. She would fill us in on what they wore (read how tiny the suits were), how long it took to swim 4 miles, the need for Body Glide, etc... and this small movement that grew exponentially. It was always interesting but not something team captain Connie Carter knew how to relate to. Who knew that in 2010 Connie would feel inspired to help Ellen's husband, John in his first year as Swim Across America Baltimore's chairperson only to have the irony of Ellen getting cancer herself; it felt surreal, almost unbelieveable.
In the fall of 2010 during the first Baltimore Open Water swim, Ellen was cancer free. Even as late as January 2011, Ellen had a clean PET scan, but during the spring she discovered the disease had moved to her liver and lungs. As you read this catalogue, Ellen will have just received a trial study on the effects of chemo combined with full body radiation, combined with harvested stem cells and lymphocytes being reintroduced. All along the way, we are all encouraged by the research that has quickly advanced, making this scenario possible. John and Ellen are grateful for the invaluable guidance they have received from oncologists and researchers at the SAA Lab at Johns Hopkins and Memorial Sloan Kettering. At the core it is John's leadership, Ellen's grace and their collective personal faith that created the desire for Connie to face her own fears and get in the water. So many people love Ellen, we want her to win the fight which is why we SWIM TO LIVE.
We all are out there telling the SAA story, raising money and awareness for cancer research by honoring Ellen Dierkes. Our efforts to help fight cancer and honor those we love have grown with Debbie Kelly and Chris Kelly who have been long time supporters in the Swim Across America movement. There are many other important faces in our minds as we swim on stroke at a time to the finish line but Ellen is the one who is front and center.