Home News Local news Poignant Reminder Precedes Breast-Cancer Swim Competition

Poignant Reminder Precedes Breast-Cancer Swim Competition


Feb. 3, 2007 — While community members participating in this year's Against the Tide in the V.I. Swim for Breast Cancer came out Saturday for a little fun in the sun, they also got a real reminder of just how deadly the disease can be.
This year's swim was dedicated to Jeannie Benjamin, a longtime sponsor, who recently lost her battle with breast cancer, organizers said.
"When I first started this event, she was right here with me," said Gayle Deller, who started the swim in 2003. "She was the first one to jump on being a sponsor. At the time she was at Crown Mountain Water, and when I went down there she said she'd definitely be involved."
Deller found out last week that her friend had died.
"It was very difficult," she said. "Her funeral was today at 10 a.m. So this event is definitely dedicated to her."
The annual event is also designed to raise money for local breast-cancer patients who are unable to afford treatment. Registration fees paid by participants go to Partners for Health at the Schneider Regional Medical Center, which has a special fund to be used for breast-cancer patients only.
"We raised $1075 today," Deller said. "My goal was $1000 and we got there." Over the past five years, the swim has brought in $4477 for Partners for Health, she added.
During Saturday's event, held at Magens Bay Beach on St. Thomas, competitors of all ages and different skill classes raced the length of the beach, and were rewarded after the one-mile trek with trophies, medals and pizza.
"It's been really great," said Diana Parker, an organizer in charge of starting and ending the swim. "We had people from age seven months to age 74 competing. And a lot of the individuals involved this year were also cancer survivors."
There were 87 participants this year, the second-highest turnout since the event's inception in 2003.
"At about 9:30 a.m. we only had about 30 people registered," she said. "And that's around the time we like to close things up and get ready to start. But when I got to the other end of the beach, the place was packed, with everyone waiting to get in the water."
Several local groups, including members of the Red Hat Society and employees of the federal District Court, also turned out in large numbers. "When you come out as a group it makes the event even better, because you do it as a team and have more fun going from one end of the beach to the other," Deller said.
Both the Red Hat Society and the District Court shared the first-place trophy for the group with the largest contingent of participants. The award for the largest school team went to the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, where Deller teaches.
Winners competed in the three different categories: swimming, swimming with fins and wading:
Male swimmer under 17 years of age: Lukata Samuel
Male swimmer with Fins: Dana Smith
Female swimmer with fins: Elizabeth Anderson
Male wader (adult): Severino Garcia Jr.
Male wader (youth): Jamar Jackson
Female wader: Cleo McLernan
Top female swimmer: Jessica Kennedy
Top male swimmer: David Nielsam
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