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Locals Brave The Waves For Cancer Fight

Feb. 7, 2009 — Unusually strong waves at Magens Bay Beach forced about 79 local residents to literally swim Against the Tide Saturday to raise money for breast cancer.
In past years, the Against the Tide Swim for Breast Cancer has brought in more than $4,000, which has been donated to Partners for Health to purchase a special piece of equipment for the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Center. Counting the proceeds from this year's event, that amount has hit at least $5,000, said event organizer Gayle Deller.
"Before today, we had been giving the money to Partners for Health, and we almost had enough to purchase the piece of equipment for the cancer center," she said. "But St. Thomas Radiology recently purchased the same piece of equipment, and it didn't make sense for us to do the same thing."
Instead, the money has been given to Cancer Support V.I. and will be used specifically for breast cancer patients, Deller said. The organization has a special fund at the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands that provides support for uninsured cancer patients suffering from all forms of the disease.
About 145 patients have already received assistance from the organization, said Charlene Kehoe, representing Cancer Support V.I.
Ready to get going, participants lined up on the far right side of the beach, but due to the rough seas, a large amount decided either to walk or wade it out in the water. But those who braved the swells found it one of the more challenging swims since the event started seven years ago.
"It was definitely a great swim, but the waves made it a little difficult today," said Dave Whitter, who took the win Saturday with a personal best time of 17:57. "The wind set down after we got started so that helped a little bit, but it was a great challenge, and sometimes — especially in the case of the ladies that we're swimming for who have been through a challenge — sometimes we rise to the challenge and do even better. So, I hope this awareness will keep things going forward and we’ll keep having a good turnout for these swim-a-thons."
Some participants had a little help in the water.
"From a swimming standpoint, it was pretty rough — but I had fins on, so it wasn't that bad," said Major Rick Coles, who brought along 17 students from Ivanna Eudora Kean High School's JROTC battalion. "But this is such a great event, and I wish we could get more teams out here to support it. The JROTC from Eudora Kean came out in mass, and I'm really proud of all of them out here."
This year's winners are:

Wader: Julianna Escoto (female) and Ryan John (male)
Swimmer: Kayla Clendinen (female) and Shaw Clement (male)
Fins: Ella Barr

Wader: Deborah Rhymer
Swimmer: Kristi Hooper (female) and Dave Whitter (male)
Fins: Mary Ellen Coles (female) and Rick Coles (male)

School team
Ivanna Eudora Kean High School

Yack Shack, with 17 participants

Youngest participant
Christian Belcher, age 3
Oldest Participant
Betsy Beretta, age 72
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