Anthony Wallace is set to swim five miles to support a friend in need.
Wallace’s friend, Kevin Lewis, had laser refractive surgery two years ago due to his inability to wear contact lenses. The surgery resulted in corneal ectasia, when the cornea loses its structural integrity, and Lewis progressively lost all of his vision over the last two years.
In order to help Lewis navigate his daily life, Wallace will swim from Burnside Island to Isle of Hope in Savannah, Georgia in order to raise money for both Lewis’ GoFundMe page and the Blinded Veterans Association.
“Everyone that knows Kevin will tell you that he is one of the kindest and most resilient people that you will ever meet,” said Wallace. “His strong resiliency has not wavered even through his setback. To see his never give up attitude has been inspiring.”
Both Savannah natives, Wallace and Lewis met at St. James and Benedictine Military school, where Lewis was valedictorian in 2009. It was while completing his BS/MS degree at Georgia Tech when Lewis underwent the surgery that ultimately cost him his sight.
While the relationship got started at school, swimming is where the friendship between the two really took off.
“We competed together in swim meets and did triathlons,” Wallace said. “This is especially where our friendship blossomed. When Kevin’s dad passed away five years ago from melanoma (he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the army), we wanted to do an ultra run together to raise money for melanoma. Busy schedules got in the way and we never saw it through. Then Kevin’s setback happened and I decided something had to be done. The epic swim was born!”
A major motivating factor behind this swim for Wallace is the financial situation Lewis finds himself in.
“Kevin’s father died about five years ago from melanoma,” said Wallace. “His mother is also unable to support him. Many members of the Savannah swim community have been involved in helping him recently.
“However, his lack of funds have limited his ability to access both further ophthalmologic care and even training for his disability. He has made multiple attempts through various agencies to obtain disability benefits without success. We are currently revisiting this as well as medical options for possible restoration of his sight. Hopefully, over time, he will see some success on both fronts. But today he suffers with inadequate funds.”
The 5-mile swim will take place on August 1. Wallace, a U.S. Masters Swimming All-American and ePostal 5K National Champion in his age group, will start in Moon River, and then the majority will go through Skidaway River. A friend, Ben Umbreit, will kayak alongside him.
“We believe that Kevin, with his deep faith in God and his positive energy, will eventually rise far above his current circumstances,” said Wallace. “When he lost his vision, he was on the verge of creating his own IT startup and had some private equity backers waiting.
“We ‘hope’ that the swim brings awareness.”
You can learn more about Kevin’s story and donate to his GoFundMe page here. Since the launch 11 days ago, they have raised almost $20,000. You can also donate to the Blinded Veterans Association here.