Westport, CT, Dec. 3, 2013 – The Westport Weston Family Y Water Rat Swim Team raised more than $41,500 with “Swim for the Philippines,” a five-hour event held on Wednesday, Nov. 27, to benefit Save the Children’s Typhoon Haiyan relief fund. Family Y officials presented the proceeds to Save the Children today, the second annual Giving Tuesday.
More than 150 Water Rats, ranging in age from 6 to 18, took part in the effort. Swimmers 9 and over pushed themselves to see how many laps they could swim in 60 minutes; younger swimmers swam for 30 minutes.
Top fundraisers included Justin Krakoff ($3,784); Annie Bowens ($3,530); Max Wimer ($3,175); Emmet Adams ($2,155); and Ethan Gross ($2,154).
High school senior Jonathan Blansfield (who will be swimming for Northwestern next year) swam the farthest by completing 232 laps. High school junior Daniel Williams, who swam 228 laps, came in second. Cambell Rosow led the charge among the younger swimmers, by completing 70 laps in 30 minutes.
Last year, this test of skill would not have been possible. In November 2012, the Water Rats had no place to practice and no place to host swim meets. The Family Y was closed because of Superstorm Sandy. “We didn’t know if the building would ever reopen,” said Ronald Wimer, a Water Rat parent and one of the event organizers. “But the property damage, inconvenience and uncertainty that we experienced in 2012 pales in comparison to the death, destruction and despair caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan. During Thanksgiving our swimmers wanted to do more than feel fortunate; they wanted to help the millions of children who are at risk in the Philippines.”
Water Rat coaches strive to teach swimmers the value of hard work, persistence and sacrifice – both in and out of the water – so it seemed obvious to high school senior Justin Krakoff that the Water Rats had to “Swim for the Philippines.” He drafted high school junior Max Wimer and both boys convinced their parents to help. Justin’s mother Lisa Krakoff coordinated the event with Westport-based Save the Children.
The funds raised will soon help relief experts move desperately needed supplies into hard hit communities in the Philippines. “Save the Children is working on the ground to reach the most vulnerable children and families affected by Typhoon Haiyan,” said Carlos Carrazana, Executive Vice President and COO for Save the Children. “Efforts like these will enable us to reach more children and families with health care, nutritious food, clean water, shelter and safe places for children to play, learn and regain a sense of normalcy.”
The fundraiser, which was held the day before Thanksgiving, lent special meaning to the holiday, especially a year after Superstorm Sandy. Laura Ballou, whose son Tucker raised more than $500, said, “Tucker really got into the cause and made a convincing pitch to friends and relatives. We are very proud of him.”
“Those who say swimming is not a team sport should spend some time with the WRATS. It is truly special how this organization works together to build a better community – both at the Y, in Westport and globally.”
This was the third time in less than 10 years that the Water Rat Swim Team has raised money for Save the Children. In 2005, the team held a Swim for Asian Tsunami relief, raising $19,000. And in 2010, the Water Rats and Staples High School Swimming held a Swim for Haiti, raising more than $45,000.
Henry Timms, the interim executive director of New York’s 92nd Street Y, launched the first “Giving Tuesday” last year. His brainstorm went viral on social media and was copied by nonprofits from New York to California. This year 7,000 nonprofits across the country are using Giving Tuesday to spur volunteers to solicit year-end donations.
Press release courtesy of the Westport Weston Family YMCA Water Rat Swim Team.