By ANDY ALISBERG
Two years ago, inspired by the lives and saddened by the passing of Wendy Landes and Katha Diddel Sussman, I decided to participate in Swim Across America’s Greenwich Stamford Long Island Sound swim for Cancer research. I have been gratified by the support of family and friends who last year contributed over $18,000 to the Greenwich/Stamford event which raised $400,000 for the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy. Across the US, Swim Across America, working with US Swim Olympians, raised $6.4 Million last year and has raised over $65 Million since inception ten years ago.
One of my goals in participating in Swim Across America has been to show solidarity with friends afflicted by cancer. Among those I sought to honor were Peter Hinrichs and Jim Phelan. Both Peter and Jim were grateful for my efforts, and Peter and his family came to watch my swim. With great sadness, I share the news that cancer took Peter at 58 and Jim at 61 this year. There is no one who lived with more grace and dignity than Peter Hinrichs. There is no one who displayed greater passion for life and fun than Jim Phelan. They were both great friends to me and I will miss them deeply. In addition, this year cancer took Holly Pressman, the Mom of one of Katie’s great childhood friends. I will swim this year in memory of Wendy, Katha, Peter, Jim, and Holly. Further, I will swim this year to honor several friends who have fought or are currently fighting cancer- Joe, Bob, Meline, Ronni, Stacey, Fran, Scott, Linda, Doug, Robin, and Ann. This list is just too long.
Over the past year, I have also learned much more about the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy. ACGT was founded by Ed and Barbara Netter, leading philanthropists in Greenwich. 100% of their funds go to research into breakthrough therapies, including the promising field of immunotherapy. I was particularly excited to learn that Wendy Landes’s daughter Ali, who has devoted her life to finding cures for cancer, serves on the board. If Ali Landes is involved with ACGT, it must be a great organization. On June 24, I will swim 1-½ miles in the Long Island Sound.