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Fifty years of swimming for cancer

Greensboro, NC, swimmers have raised $5 million.

For the last 50 years, youth in Guilford County, NC, have been swimming laps and raising money for the fight against cancer. The American Cancer Society's longest running fundraiser, Swim For Cancer, began in 1973 to honor a dedicated young man and swimmer, John Dewey, who inspired the community before passing away from the disease as a senior in high school. 

To this day, more than 2,000 young swimmers in and around Greensboro gather at their pools each summer, as they did this July, to raise money in memory of John and in honor of their loved ones who have been impacted by cancer. From generation to generation, these young swimmers have raised more than $5 million for ACS.

“I grew up participating in the Swim For Cancer every year, and now have a 14-year-old daughter who has done the same every year since she was 6 years old,” said Susan Skipper, a parent volunteer with the Friendly Swim team, the top fundraising team the last two years, pictured here with their trophies. “At Friendly Pool, we are very active in our Swim For Cancer fundraising campaign. We offer a variety of events to raise money along with the children getting sponsors for their laps, including a nice sit-down dinner at the pool, a silent auction, raffle baskets, merchandise sales and a pancake breakfast for the kids the morning of the actual Swim For Cancer.”

Susan’s daughter, Rachael, has been active in Swim For Cancer for eight years, but it is now more personal than ever. Susan has colorectal cancer, and the long-time head Friendly swim coach, Erin Harris, has breast cancer. (Coach Erin is pictured in the photo at the top of this story, teaching the Friendly swimmers facts about cancer between laps on the morning of Friendly’s Swim For Cancer event.) Both Rachael and Erin have participated in Swim For Cancer as young swimmers themselves and have been involved in the cause for decades.

“My mom has cancer. My swim coach has cancer. My relatives have had cancer. Both of my great grandmothers died from cancer. A lot of my mom's close friends have had cancer. Cancer has invited itself into my life and I would like for it to leave,” said Rachael, who raised $7,500 and was the top individual fundraiser for the event this year. “This Swim For Cancer every summer gives me a chance to help fight cancer.”

The passion for Swim For Cancer has been around for 50 years, and it is not slowing down. This year, 20 Guilford County swim teams raised more than $197,000! And, they will continue swimming toward a world without cancer.


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