Dozens of swimmers raise money for cancer research

Swim Across America was held Saturday morning
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 11:30 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - This wasn’t just any summertime swim. These swimmers were up early Saturday morning hoping to beat cancer one stroke at a time.

They were taking part in Swim Across America. It was their fourth open water swim here in the River City and it was personal for Jay Peluso. His sister Michelle has cancer.

”I will say this my sister gone through chemotherapy treatment and it is awful and it’s just hard and painful. And there’s got to be a better way and the only way we’re gonna make it better is if we fund these research to find a better way,” said Jay Peluso, event director.

More than 60 grants are funded each year by this organization.

Connor Smith, 15, says he’s swimming for his friend.

”I’m swimming for one of my friends he had leukemia when he was five and he’s still battling through it now,” said Smith.

There were a few swimming options for participants on Saturday - a 1-mile swim or a 1-mile float. People could also participate virtually. All of the proceeds from this event went to help support clinical trials and cancer research at VCU’s Massey Cancer Center.

“How can we fund new ideas so that families who hear those three dreaded words ‘you have cancer’ can also hear from their own doctor ‘there is hope,’” said Rob Butcher, CEO of swim across America.

Once they got out of the water, some of the swimmers threw on wigs for a crazy wig party. It was in honor of the event organizer’s sister to show support and an important symbol for her journey.

”I told her I’d shave my head too because I’m a supportive brother and she said she didn’t want me to do that. She wanted me to get a crazy wig because she wanted to laugh - she was going need to laugh,” said Peluso.

“What I want people to leave with today is that we can make a difference if we come together and we give these researchers the funds they need, we can save people’s lives,” he said.