|SRI Sharks Team with San Jose Sharks mascot “Sharkie”|
Twenty-five teams and hundreds of swimmers and volunteers will make a big splash at the 38thAnnual Abilities United Aquathon www.AbilitiesUnited.org/aquathon and https://www.facebook.com/events/1475144659394370/ on Sunday Sept 13th.
This fun, family oriented event is scheduled from noon – 4 pm at the West Valley College Nyquist Aquatic Center at 14000 Fruitvale Avenue in Saratoga. The fun-filled swim relay raises money for Abilities United services for individuals with developmental and physical disabilities. Proceeds go directly to the lifetime of services available to these individuals and the community. The event have currently raised over $40,0000 toward the $120,000 goal. The Aquathon has grown exponentially since its beginnings in 1978 when it raised under $5,000.
Over 400 swimmers and volunteers from throughout the Peninsula and South Bay attend the event. Event volunteers include the Homestead High School Interactor Club of Cupertino.
The swimmers and fundraisers include employees from throughout Silicon Valley, participants and staff at Abilities United programs, and local community residents. Lead sponsors of the Aquathon 2015 are Oracle and De Mattei Construction. Other sponsors include Captain Kirk’s San Francisco Sailing, Homewood Suites by Hilton Palo Alto, MarketRiders, Mulcahy Family Dentistry, Prodigy Press and SRI International.
The Aquathon is a community and team-building event where people of all walks of life, all ages and all abilities, swim side-by-side to raise money to help fund the training, education, and support that Abilities United provides to people with developmental and physical disabilities so they can reach their potential.
Each year, one of these individuals is chosen to be the “honorary” swimmer to kick-off the Aquathon with the inaugural swim. This year’s honorary swimmer is retired Executive Director of the Palo Alto Family YMCA, Dan Logan. In sharing his story, Dan said: “My wife and I have been donors to Abilities United since 2001. We firmly believe in the services they provide to people with disabilities and the value the organization brings to the community. While I was happy to donate and be involved as captain of our Aquathon team, I could not predict that one day I would actually need to use Abilities United services. That day came in September 2002, at age 58, when I suffered a spinal cord injury that fractured my spine at the neck. Immediately, I lost the use of my muscles from the navel on down, paralyzing my legs and I became a wheelchair user for the rest of my life.
After eight weeks of intensive rehabilitation at the hospital, I went home to resume my roles as husband and father, and community leader. To resume my life as best as possible, I had to regain my strength and increase my flexibility and ability to move. Right down the street from my house was the Abilities United Aquatic Services. And as a career YMCA guy, I knew the benefits of water exercise for people of any age and ability..
My first venture outside of our home was to the Abilities United Betty Wright Aquatic Services. With the help of my aquatics therapist, I used the warm, buoyant water to enable me to stand on my feet, regain my sense of balance, and get hundreds of hours of strength training and cardio exercise. I also learned to make use of goggles and snorkel equipment.
All of these enabled me to swim more than one hundred miles over three years, including the miles I have swum at the Abilities United Aquathon. My team and I have raised over $150,000 to help Abilities United provide services for people like me, and the thousands of other community members, who need these services. My Aquathon team – comprised of family members, friends, YMCA members and staff, from preschool age to folks in their late sixties – has had a lot of fun while making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. As the 2015 Honorary Swimmer, I now have the opportunity to tell even more people how important Abilities United services are for our community members who live with a disability or may acquire a disability.
Why do I contribute, raise funds, and keep swimming in the Aquathon? Well, certainly because I need aquatic exercise and therapy. But more importantly, I want to make sure Abilities United continues to provide these services to all community members who do or can benefit its services in the years to come.” Dan’s story is available on the Aquathon’s Honorary Swimmer page https://www.abilitiesunited.org/honoree
New this year, Raquel Boales, a 14-year old gold and silver award winning synchronized swimmer from Synchronized Swimming Athletes with Disabilities, will demonstrate her solo synchro routine. Raquel is one of the organization’s Synchro Ambassadors and travels around the world to inspire other countries to introduce synchronized swimming as a Paralympic Sport. Based in San Jose, Synchronized Swimming Athletes with Disabilities is an international advocacy and information group to help people with disabilities (Physical/Intellectual/Cognitive) who can swim and/or are interested or involved with the sport of synchronized swimming, will also have an informational booth about their programs. It is appropriate to have a synchronized swimming demonstration at the Abilities United Aquathon because origins of synchronized swimming date back to 1907 and began with a woman who had a “disability” as a child. At age six, professional swimmer Annette Kellerman, wore steel braces to strengthen her weak legs. To further overcome her disability, her parents enrolled her in swimming classes. By the age of 13, she gained nearly complete leg strength, and by 15, she had mastered all the swimming strokes and won her first race. In 1907, she performed in a glass tank at the New York Hippodrome as the first underwater ballerina/synchronized swimmer.
The Abilities United Aquathon epitomizes the vision of Abilities United, a society where all people; of all abilities; learn, live, work, and play together creating great fulfillment, benefit and unity for everyone. It is a society where there are no barriers to the full inclusion and contribution of people with disabilities and their families.
Teams, made up of 6 to 8 people from all over the Bay Area, swim for 30-minutes to raise funds. Corporate matches are added to team totals. Sponsors of the Abilities United Aquathon include:
· Oracle (11 years as sponsor, 20 years of team swimming!)
· De Mattei Construction of San Jose (4 years as sponsor)
Bronze ($2,500) sponsor in 2015 is:
· Laurie T. Jarrett (A friend and supporter of Abilities United for 40 years.)