It may have been a rainy morning on Saturday, but Team Julian was ready to honor their late friend Julian Fraser in the best way they knew how: participating in Swim Across America’s eleventh annual open water swim.
Headed by team captain Brooke Lorenz, Team Julian consisted of close friends and family. Julian, a 2014 graduate of Greenwich High School, passed away this past February after a hard-fought battle against osteosarcoma.
Alec Fraser and Brooke Lorenz finish their swim to honor Julian. Photo: Devon Bedoya.
Members of Team Julian. Photo: Devon Bedoya
Although it was originally scheduled to be outdoors at Cummings Beach in Stamford, the swim had to be held indoors at the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich due to the rainy weather.
“I know you would all prefer to be swimming out in the Sound today, but in some ways it’s kind of fitting that we’re here at the Boys and Girls Club. This is where Julian swam for many years before swimming at the high school. So Julian is here with us,” said Alec Fraser, Julian’s father.
Swimmers in the Boys & Girls Club pool. Photo: Devon Bedoya
Fraser was the honored speaker of this year’s Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America. He talked about what the cause meant to Julian.
“Swim Across America is a cause that was very near and dear to Julian. Last year, despite his advanced disease, he desperately wanted to swim. He was cleared by his doctors to participate, but he had just finished a round of chemo and was too weak to do so. He would be so honored and incredibly moved to see the immense support of all of you here,” said Fraser.
Alec Fraser was the honored speaker at this year’s swim. Photo: Devon Bedoya
Alec Fraser and Michele Graham embrace after his speech. Photo: Devon Bedoya
For Team Julian members and others who knew him, this event was especially meaningful.
“Jules has impacted so many lives. Today we are getting together as a community because of him,” said Nicole Cutler. Cutler knew Julian from the Greenwich High School swim team as well as the Roxbury Swim Club in Stamford.
“Julian was a ray of light to all who knew him, and a lightning bolt in the water,” said Lorrie Lorenz, a Co-Event Chair of Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford.
“I swim to make Julian proud,” said Porter Carlson, who knew Julian through the Greenwich High School swim team. It was Carlson’s fifth year participating in the Swim.
Carlson’s father, Peter Carlson, also participated in the swim. He was the second highest donor, raising over $20 thousand for cancer research. Andy Alisberg was the highest donor this year, raising over $23,000.
Peter Carlson said that he has a lot of close friends who are affected by cancer. For him, his participation in Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford began seven years ago when he swam with his sister.
“I realized I couldn’t win the race against cancer, but I could win in fundraising,” he said.
Peter Carlson was the second highest donor at this year’s swim, raising over $20,000. Photo: Devon Bedoya
Michele Graham, a Co-Event Chair of Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford said that it was her fifth year of being involved with the organization.
“Swim Across America means saving lives,” she said. Graham also has a daughter who is a cancer survivor.
The event drew people in from other surrounding communities as well.
“It’s a chance to contribute to a great cause,” said Kris Salovaara, a resident of Manhattan who has participated in the Swim three separate times starting in 2007. This year, he was swimming as an individual, apart from any of the teams.
Elizabeth Colligan, a student at the Convent of Sacred Heart, also swam as an individual this year. She said her father, who has been involved with Swim Across America for eleven years, had initially introduced her to the organization.
“I’ve been part of it for almost my whole life. I grew up with it,” said Colligan.
People watch from the observation deck as participants swim laps. Photo: Devon Bedoya
The event raised an award of $375,000, all of which will go to the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy.
ACGT is a beneficiary of Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford. All of the money will support the research of Dr. Samuel Katz and Dr. Crystal Mackall.
“The energy in the room when the award was presented was palpitating,” said Margaret Cianci, Executive Director of ACGT.
Dr. Katz is an assistant professor of pathology at Yale University who is studying the use of immunotherapy using RNA to attack cancer cells in blood cancers. Dr. Mackall is the Associate Director of the Stanford Cancer Institute who is using ACGT funds to focus on immunotherapy to treat osteosarcoma.
Brooke Lorenz, the captain of Team Julian, is herself a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she was graduating high school, and has now gone six years cancer-free.
“There are no words that can describe what this means to me,” said Lorenz about Swim Across America.
Last year, people swam for Lorenz’s team to show their support in her successful battle against cancer. One of those team members was Julian Fraser.
“The team that honored me is now honoring Julian,” said Lorenz.
Alec Fraser watching the rest of Team Julian complete their laps. Photo: Devon Bedoya
Everyone had a story for “Why I Swim” in Swim Across America’s 2017 Greenwich-Stamford open water swim. Photo: Devon Bedoya
Julian had gone through eleven months of treatment before he passed. His father emphasized the fact that this event was going to have an impact on cancer research. He said that progress was being made every day, especially in the case of osteosarcoma.
Team Julian raised over $82,000 for this event, the largest amount of funds of any team in the Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America.
“We all have a story, and today we celebrate those loved ones. Together we celebrate our collective goal of never having to lose another Julian.” – Lorrie Lorenz