This is my 3rd year attending the open water swim for Swim Across America at Lake Lanier. In 2017 I did not swim, but was there to witness, support, and be inspired by the bravest patient and person I have ever known, Grace Bunke. In 2017 Grace swam a mile in the open water of Lake Lanier (and much faster than I swam a year later) despite having progressive, metastatic osteosarcoma throughout her lungs and the bones in her spine. She was also the top individual fundraiser at the event.
Six months later, on March 25, 2018, Grace died. But as her mother, Vicki, my friend and faithful Swim Atlanta training partner wrote, "...love and joy and peace, but mostly GRACE won. Death did not. Nor will it ever. Through our tears, we will continue to remind one another what Grace’s incredibly beautiful life taught each of us...that love and faith and hope have no finish line. Nor will it ever."
Grace swam for HOPE. Grace also assured us, though we may not be able to see her, she would be with us at Lake Lanier on September 22nd, 2018 at last year's SAA Atlanta event....and she was! She was all around us, as her mother, sister, friends, and her "medical friends" like me swam a mile in her honor and memory. And guess what else....she was also the TOP NATIONAL FUNDRAISER!!!
Since last year, Grace's mother, Vicki, and I have continued to swim (or at times "social kickboard" as Coach Pat at Swim Atlanta teasingly calls it). Last year at this time we could not even swim a lap in the pool....but we trained and swam the mile. Grace had wanted to swim the 5K last year, so this year we will train again, and that is exactly what we will do! We are swimming the 5K this year (that's 3.2 miles!!!!). Why? FOR HOPE....FOR GRACE....BECAUSE "HOPE HAS NO FINISH LINE".
Please kindly consider a donation in Grace's honor, memory, and because 3.2 miles is a REALLY LONG WAY. The money donated goes directly to research at the Aflac Cancer Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta/Emory University School of Medicine. This was Grace's medical "home" and where I proudly serve as a pediatric oncologist and medical director.
You can either donte through this page or through Grace Bunke's SAA Personal Page
You can also send a check to Swim Across America, c/o Nancy Peek, PO Box 1078, Tucker, GA 30085. Checks should be made out to Swim Across America and include the name Karen Wasilewski-Masker or Grace Bunke as the swimmer you are supporting!