The Marathon would be a daunting swim for any athlete, and Hannah has some extra motivation. This summer she is swimming in support of her 11 year old god daughter, Olivia, who is battling stage 4 brain cancer. She is raising money to go directly to pediatric brain cancer research at the Feinberg School of Medicine where they are also researching a cure for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). A sad statistic shows that only 4% of cancer research donations actually go towards pediatric brain cancer research and Hannah wants to make sure that 100% of this money gets in the direct hands of the doctors who are working in pediatric cancer research. At this time, Olivia’s tumor is not curable, similar to how ALS currently has no cure. With the help of medical researchers, Hannah hopes that we can find a way to defeat this cancer and keep Olivia with us as long as we can.
Hannah has dedicated her summer of athletic events to A Long Swim and the Feinberg School of Medicine, a nonprofit that is dedicated to raising funding for collaborative ALS research by creatively using open water and marathon-distance swimming in a unique venue such as Lake Tahoe. Hannah will swim over night for approximately 10-11 hours to complete the 22.1 mile marathon swim. She will swim solo, accompanied by a pilot boat company, Pacific Open Water Swim Co, and their owners who will administer her nutrition and one supportive family member. Solo marathon swimming is cold, lonely and physically demanding, much similar to how it feels to battle a serious disease. Hannah will complete this swim in Olivia’s name and give her the opportunity to present a “big check” to the doctors this Fall.
There is no cure for ALS, a neurodegenerative disease in which patients gradually lose their ability to use their muscles. As a sharp contrast to the loss of someone’s ability to use their muscles, swimming requires the use of all of an athlete’s muscles, all of the time. The same can be said of brain tumors and brain cancer.
Since 2011, A Long Swim has hosted swims of the English Channel, Tampa Bay, Manhattan Island and the Molokai Channel, and now hosts open water swimming events in the Chicago area. Through the unique use of open water and marathon swimming, A Long Swim has raised $500,000 for collaborative ALS research, and has no plans to stop until there is a cure for this horrific disease.