Making Waves to Fight Cancer

Enthusiasm continues to grow for Swim Across America's annual Chicago Open Water Swim, which has raised $540,000 for cancer research at Rush since 2012.

The annual Swim Across America Chicago Open Water Swim in support of cancer research at Rush takes place at Ohio Street Beach. The 2014 Chicago swim will be held on Saturday, July 26. (Photography by Rush Photo Group)

David McClellan experienced cancer’s wide reach firsthand when he lost his stepfather to the disease.

“It’s not a question of if people have been touched by cancer in their lives, it’s when,” McClellan said.

Eager to make a difference, McClellan joined Swim Across America, a national organization that raises money for cancer research through swimming events. Money raised by the swimmers goes to a cancer research center in the same community where the events take place. Since 2012, Swim Across America Chicago has supported Rush University Medical Center, contributing $215,000 toward clinical cancer research in 2012, followed by $325,000 in 2013.

“We’ve done a great job growing it in the last couple of years, but there’s a lot more to do,” said McClellan, Swim Across America Chicago's event director. “Every $100,000 we raise could fund one or two distinct early-stage research projects.”

Infectious enthusiasm for both the event and the philanthropic opportunity inspired a team of employees and staff from Rush to raise money and participate in the 2012 and 2013 swims at Ohio Street Beach. Grateful patients are also among the participants, including Catherine Gray, who is active on the Chicago Committee for Swim Across America. After about 18 months of severe pain, she came to Rush for a second opinion and underwent successful hip replacement surgery in 2009. Gray has swum at the event for the last 18 years straight, and her treatment at Rush helped her to continue swimming without pain.

“It changed my life, and I’m as active as I ever was,” Gray said. “The care you receive as a patient at Rush is extraordinary. It’s different from other hospitals. It’s really easy to become passionate about Rush.”

To register for the Chicago swim on July 26, join the Rush team or donate to a swimmer who inspires you, go to Swim Across America Chicago's website.

Read one volunteer's story to learn more about the people who take part in Swim Across America — from Olympic swimmers to an 11-year-old boy — and the research it helps fund.


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