The Searcy Swim Center partnered with a national charity to host a fundraiser earlier this month to raise money for cancer research, marking the first time this charity has held an event in Arkansas.
The swim center hosted a community swim day from 9 a.m. to noon, and organizers raised nearly $3,000 as part of a fundraiser for Swim Across America (SAA), a national organization that holds events to support cancer research, according to the event’s website page.
Bald Knob resident Lisa Floryshak, who helped plan the fundraiser, said people who pre-registered could participate in pool activities such as relay races, swimming laps and more.
“I love doing charity events when I get a chance to,” Floryshak said. “I think it’s really good for the community, and I think it’s really good for the people that are involved in it.”
Organizers raised $2,926 of their $10,000 goal as of March 9, according to the event page. SAA Vice President of Partnerships Craig Beardsley said his charity would combine the money with funds from other pool swims to support young scientists who needed funding to do cutting-edge cancer research.
Floryshak said this fundraiser was especially important to her because she had spent the last two years as the primary caregiver of a loved one who had been diagnosed with stage four cancer. Floryshak said she struggled watching her loved one suffer from the illness, and she often turned to swimming to take breaks and refresh her mind.
“Swimming was where I could bury pain,” Floryshak said.
People who signed up for the fundraiser received their own private pages on the SAA website through which they could request donations by sharing the web page links with friends and family members, Floryshak said.
In the week leading up to the community swim, the SAA held other activities at the swim center, Floryshak said. On Feb. 28, children on the Searcy Sharks swim team played games with ice cubes, rubber duck and other objects while learning about cancer awareness.
Senior Jakob Aziamov participated in a 5:30 a.m. workout with the Searcy Masters, a swimming fitness group for adults, on March 3 as part of the SAA fundraiser. Aziamov said he enjoyed supporting a good cause through an activity he is passionate about.
“I also really like a good workout challenge,” Aziamov said.
Floryshak, who is originally from New York, said she has competed in a couple of open swims with SAA and appreciates their enthusiasm for doing charity work in different communities. Floryshak said she and former Searcy Swim Center aquatics manager Claire Bristow began planning the fundraiser several months ago.
Although Beardsley did not attend the event, he said he was excited that the SAA held a fundraiser in Arkansas for the first time and was thankful for the connections he had formed with people in the state.
“Searcy and the whole community were great,” Beardsley said. “And first year there, everything was wonderful.”