Hundreds of swimmers jumped into the frigid San Francisco Bay Saturday morning amid blaring megaphone sirens to raise money for cancer research as part of the 17th annual local Swim Across America.
Mitali and Anaya Khanzode join a San Francisco fundraiser to honor their swimming coach, who is now battling cancer. The sisters from Sunnyvale, ages 20 and 17, are veteran bay swimmers who have both broken world records in open water competitions – including Anaya in 2013 at age 8 in 50. The record for swimming from Alcatraz Island to the coast of San Francisco in minutes.
“Our instructor has become part of our family since we’ve been swimming in open water for over 10 years, and it means a lot to support a cause that helps him,” Mitali said.
As the event’s “Swimming Angels”, the two help inexperienced swimmers along the 1.5-mile route from Green-by-the-Sea to the water park.
“We’re really looking forward to meeting new people,” Anaya said, walking towards the start of the beach beyond the seawall.
Swim Across America, a nonprofit organization founded in 1987, has held 21 events across the country. It raised approximately $100 million for life-saving immunotherapy and more than 60 scientific grants, including for research at Children’s Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York .
Since its launch in 2006, the San Francisco campaign has raised at least $5.5 million for cancer research at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. This year, local swimmers and volunteers raised more than $500,000.
“Everyone swims for a different reason: some swim in honor of someone who beat cancer, some swim in honor of someone who died of cancer, and some swim in honor of several people,” said Jenna Stey, national security liaison Vinson said. Travel all over America.
In 2019, more than 1.7 million cancer cases were diagnosed in the United States, and nearly 600,000 people died from cancer, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that for every 100,000 people, 439 new cancer cases and 146 deaths were reported that year.
Thomas Wu, a cancer researcher at Bay Area biotech company Genentech, joined a team of colleagues for Saturday’s swim. It’s the first time Wu, a regular swimmer from San Francisco, has signed up for “Swimming Across America,” and he says he raised $1,000.
“I’ve dedicated my career to treating cancer and I want to continue that by raising some funds and participating in this event.”
Berkeley’s Christina Kossa joined the swim as part of a two-person team called the Albany Adorables. She was there to support a swimmer who survived breast cancer and to honor a friend who died of a brain tumor in 2016.
Kossa said she remembers staying with her friends until the night she died, and how difficult it was for her family to recover from the loss.
“I really hope that with donation research, more results will come out of my friend who survived breast cancer,” she said.
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