People often ask, “Why in the world are you doing this?”…
A few years ago I made a decision to see if I could swim across the English Channel. A once in a lifetime challenge that I wanted to make, along with an event that could be used for something more than just me. That’s where Diana Davis comes into the picture. You can guess which one she is in the picture above. More on her in a bit.
From the time I was seven, I have always been fond of the water, be it beach vacations, summer swim teams, high school meets, college training camps, or the first leg of a triathlon, I have always enjoyed the water. After putting in many hours of training to try to qualify for the Ironman Hawaii World Championships, and failing to qualify, I wanted something different. A friend, coincidentally at around the same time, gave me a book by Lynn Cox, called ‘Swimming to Antarctica’. And like that, I was bitten. A challenge that didn’t require qualifying at a certain time or speed or age group place. Just water, with a starting point and an ending point, albeit about 22 miles apart.
Since the time two years ago when I decided that sounded doable, I have learned so much about this endurance sport, too much to go into in this letter even. The bottom line for me was, this is something that could be completed in around the same time it had taken me to complete my Ironman races. It required a commitment to prepare physically and mentally for and was just inside my ‘sphere of endurance’ as I call it. Basically, it sounds crazy, but not too crazy. So as you read this, I am working on gaining approximately 45 pounds of ‘insulation’ (since there are rules that say you can’t wear a wetsuit), logging approximately one million yards of 1-2-3-4-breath sequences in the pool at the Y, the pond in my backyard, the lake at Caesar Creek State Park, and hopefully the Atlantic Ocean, leading up to the big day.
So that’s my goal for the end of this coming July. Flying to Dover, England with my two required crewmates, meeting with Lance, the captain of the boat who I’ve hired to help guide me across the busiest shipping lane in the world, putting on my swim cap and goggles and hopefully swimming through 60 degree water until I reach a beach on the French coastline. And while I don’t see this becoming an annual event, joining the small list of people who have made it across seems doable. However the costs for 3 people to fly over, stay there for 1-2 weeks, lodging, food, etc. is well outside of my ability to cash flow alone. This is where you come into play. For the first and probably last time, I am seeking some financial assistance in covering some of the costs to get this done.
One regret I’ve had up to this pint is that my wife, along with many of our friends, have done something that I never did, and that was to fundraise for a cause greater than just themselves. Possibly even a cause that they may need help from down the road. In fact, Stephanie and I met because of her Team In Training (TNT) event. So I thought, if ever I was going to do something big enough to feel like it warranted a chance of getting people to put money towards, the Channel swim is it.
I met Diana through a good friend by the name of Karen Cosgrove. Stephanie and I actually met for the first time while she was training for her TNT event in Karen’s front yard. If you do nothing else after reading this letter, at least visit Karen’s Foundations website, www.MilesThatMatter.com. She along with other athletic and ‘bigger picture’ people have some great stories on her site. And Diana is one of those people. She had her first go ‘round with cancer in 2002 (her first followed by 5 recurrences). Any one of which makes swimming the Channel feel like splashing in a kiddie pool. In fact, this grandmother of seven has basically been on chemo for over a decade. (The reason I’m only holding one leg in the picture above is because she just had a procedure done on her right leg). The issue for Diana now is that all that chemo has basically destroyed the ability of her blood to regenerate fast enough and her doctors have given her a year or so to live. And to be honest, this probably isn’t one of those ‘well they told me I had a few months to live and then I pulled through’ stories. That’s because she now has MDS, which is an acronym for a scientific term that would take up a whole line of this letter to say, but as with everything now has a Wikipedia link that explains the details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myelodysplastic_syndrome My laymen’s understanding of it is that it is basically the cancer that cancer-survivors are getting after they have been through chemo treatments. You may be familiar with another person who had MDS, Robin Roberts. However, there are two things that Robin has going for her that Diana doesn’t. #1- Robin isn’t as old as Diana. The cure for MDS is to have a bone-marrow transplant; however, doctors won’t do BMT’s on people once they’re in their 60’s. They’re “seniority precludes likely success”, basically. The second thing is that Robin’s sister was a perfect match for them to do the transplant and not have to worry (as much) about her body rejecting it. So, with all that heavy information now known, the goal for the ‘make this bigger than just a swim’ part of my attempt is to raise funds to make a donation to the Cancer community, in honor of Diana, with the express desire for it to go towards funding cures for MDS.
In conclusion then, I am asking for your financial help to get me from Ohio, to Dover and on to France. Secondly, I am asking for your help in contributing towards finding a cure for MDS. A simple tax-deductible check made payable to Miles That Matter, with Kyle Swims The Channel on the memo line will go towards helping both objectives. Checks can be mailed to Kyle at 8727 Red Lion Five Points Road, Springboro OH 45066.
Many thanks in advance, KYLE