The swimming community has always been very close knit. When the UNC-Wilmington Internal Athletic Review Committee recommended that the men’s and women’s swim teams be cut in order to save money, a campaign was launched and the swimming community rallied together to save the programs. The leaders of the fight to save the swimming programs gathered over 14,000 signatures, had over 18,000 views on their website, and generated thousands of dollars to save UNCW Swimming and Diving between May 15th and May 30th of 2013.
The swimming community is at it again, this time to raise money for a six year old swimmer named Soren Cooper. In July, a first grader named Soren was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, an aggressive form of blood cancer. His family is deeply rooted within the swimming community. His mother, Erika Cooper, is the coach of the Great Bay Masters Club and the Aquatics Director at the University of New Hampshire. His father, Vaughan Cooper, is a professor at the University of New Hampshire and a triathlete who is frequently seen around the pool. When Jenny Priester and Nicole Benson, both swimmers at the Great Bay Masters Club, learned of Soren’s condition, they organized a fund-raiser to help cover the costs of Soren’s medical treatment and travel expenses.
One Million Meters For Soren was created and swimmers of all ages gathered to support Soren. On September 8th in Dover, New Hampshire at the Jenny Thompson Pool, swimmers of all ages gathered to swim. Each swimmer pledged a number of meters and raised money for every meter they swam. The University of New Hampshire’s women’s swim team participated in the fundraiser.
As the news of the event spread, a virtual component of the event took off, offering an online option. The Cooper’s have family outside of New Hampshire and many friends involved within the swimming community from out of town that wanted to show their support as well. As Soren’s story spread throughout the county, swimmers were inspired to support the Cooper family, even though they had never met.
For anyone who would like to swim for Soren, the organizers encourage you to go to your local swimming pool and swim as long and far as you want. Then have a picture taken of you, holding a piece of paper or a whiteboard with your name, how far you swam, and an inspirational message for Soren.
You can send that picture to [email protected]. For more information about One Million Miles for Soren, or if you wish to donate, visit their website by clicking here. All donations will go towards the Cooper families’ medical expenses and travel costs. Soren is being treated at Boston’s Children Hospital.
As of September 25th, 2013, the official count for Soren is 1,020,683 meters, more than 20,000 meters over their original goal!