SF Bay Swim to Benefit Child Cancer Care at UCSF

September 24, 2008
News Office: Kate Schoen (415) 502-6397

Swimming enthusiasts are invited to join a team of Olympians for Swim Across America's third annual San Francisco Bay Area Open Water Swim on Saturday, Oct. 18. The events benefits cancer care at UCSF Children's Hospital.

The 1.5-mile swim from the Golden Gate Bridge to Crissy Field will raise money for pediatric cancer research and clinical programs at both UCSF and Children's Hospital Oakland through pledges collected by swimmers and through online donations.

Although the event attracts highly skilled athletes, it is not considered a race. Each swimmer pledges to raise a minimum of $1,000, and prizes will be awarded to the top fundraisers.

Participating in this year's Bay swim are Olympians Mike Bruner, Ray Carey, Jeff Float, Susan Heon-Preston, Glenn Mills, Roque Santos, Alison Townsley, Heather Petri and Janel Jorgensen.

"Since the 2008 Olympics just wrapped up, there is a lot of enthusiasm for the sport," said Jorgensen, a 1988 Olympic silver medalist and the executive director of the Swim Across America organization. "This is an opportunity for all swimmers to leverage the sport they love and really make a difference in the fight against cancer."

On the morning of the event, participants will board the California Spirit yacht from Pier 9 at 8:30 a.m. After a scenic ride through the Bay, swimmers will jump in the water under the Golden Gate Bridge and head back to Crissy Field East Beach, a total of about 1.5 miles, depending on the tides. Less-experienced swimmers are encouraged to sign up for the alternative half-mile long course.

Upon completion of the swim, there will be a celebration and awards ceremony on the beach for participants, families and friends.

To learn more about the San Francisco swim, make a donation, or register to swim, visit www.swimacrossamerica.org/ san_francisco/sanfran_swim.html.

The Swim Across America event is the primary funding source for UCSF's Survivors of Childhood Cancer Program, which helps pediatric cancer survivors maintain optimal physical and emotional health for the rest of their lives through clinical care, education and research.

It is estimated that one in 500 young adults in the United States is a survivor of pediatric cancer, according to Robert Goldsby, MD, a UCSF pediatric oncologist and medical director of the survivors program.

According to Goldsby, continuing advances in pediatric cancer treatments have resulted in a growing population of childhood cancer survivors, and physicians are still learning about the long-term consequences of childhood cancer and its therapy.

"It is essential that we provide appropriate and comprehensive care addressing the long-term consequences of therapy for cancer survivors," Goldsby said. "In this relatively new field of medicine, continued research is needed to ensure that we identify and address the health care needs of this growing population."

One unique element of the Survivors Program is a pocket-sized "health passport" that contains all of the information relevant to each patient's cancer history, treatment regimen and follow-up needs. The passports are distributed to all patients in the program so they have a concise summary of their medical information on hand any time it is needed.

Swim Across America is a national non-profit organization that runs events throughout the United States to support cancer research at the country's best hospitals and institutions. To date, Swim Across America has raised over $23 million. This year, organizers in the Bay Area hope to raise more than $250,000.

One of the nation's top children's hospitals, UCSF Children's Hospital creates an environment where children and their families find compassionate care at the healing edge of scientific discovery, with more than 150 experts in 50 medical specialties serving patients throughout Northern California and beyond. The hospital admits about 5,000 children each year, including 2,000 babies born in the hospital.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. For further information, please visit www.ucsf.edu.

Complete information about Swim Across America is available at www.swimacrossamerica.org.

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