Our family and friends are holding our second annual “Swimming St.Clair” event in honor of our 7 year old son, Rickie. Rickie, who turns 8 in August, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in October, 2007. Cystic fibrosis is a disease that causes the creation of thick mucus that forms in the lungs and pancreas. This substance makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and to assimilate vitamins and nutrients from food.
The good news is that CF is supported by a national organization that is second to none in their pursuit of a cure for this disease. Partly because of the CF Foundation, medicine continues to make great strides, and we are more hopeful than ever for a cure.
The bad news is that we have yet to find that cure and because it took our doctors 6 years to diagnose what we consider to be an obvious problem, Rickie is already feeling the affects of the disease. As of this year, the State of Michigan tests all children at birth, and this is a tremendous step forward. Had Rickie been tested at birth, or had Rickie’s pediatrician either listened to us as parents or thought enough to do a simple sweat test, Rickie would be much better off at this point. It points out the absolute need to be your own patient advocate. Medicine continues to improve, but personal advocacy helps good doctors make better decisions. Luckily, we have found Dr. Sami Nasr, at Mott's Children’s Hospital who runs the Pulminary Specialties Area at the Hospital. She is amazing, and Rickie is drastically improved since meeting her.
We dedicate this swim to Rickie and using the proceeds of the event to establish a medical trust fund in his name. This will help to defray the cost of his future medical expenses – which could be exorbitant. There is also an opportunity to donate to the cf organization nationally on our site – a wonderful organization.
The swimmers are a group of volunteers, each committed to swimming either a segment, or the entire 12+ mile swim. At this point, there are two swimmers who have agreed to swim the entire distance and at least one other group of 6 swimmers who are going to swim intervals. Each swimmer will be assigned to a particular boat, which will pace the slowest swimmer. It is expected that we will have an EMT in each boat for emergencies – though we haven’t yet identified the EMT’s.
Our route takes us from Harsen’s Island, at the north of Lake St. Clair to the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club at the southeast end of the lake. My family and I are not members of either club, but both have graciously offered us their support and have agreed to allow us to use their facilities for our event.
Assuming favorable conditions, we will depart by boat just before 8am from the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. We will arrive at The Old Club on Harsen’s Island at approximately 8:15. Upon arrival at “The Old Club”, located at the southern tip of Harsen’s Island, we will make final adjustments and get one last injection of protein and carbs before beginning our swim.
At 9am we will enter the water at the southern end of Harsen’s Island from the Old Club Pier. We will swim out in the Middle Channel for several hundred yards, at the edge of the US/Canadian line, then head due west, cutting between Gull and Harsen’s Islands. This gets us away from the shipping channel, which passes just southeast of this point, and heads us towards the South Channel lights (actually, the “St Clair Flats Channel” range lights, originally built in 1859), twin lighthouses that mark the original shipping channel from Lake Huron through Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie.
The currents will push us south and east, so we need to hustle across this section or risk being carried across the US/Canada line and into the shipping channel. The international line isn’t nearly as daunting as the shipping channel – the fastest freighters can travel at nearly 20 knots and aren’t able to easily slow down or turn. Swimming through the shipping channel would be dangerous at best, so we will focus on staying comfortably west of both the US/Canadian line and the shipping channel, which runs nearly straight from Harsen’s Island to the Detroit River and which sees considerable boat traffic.
St. Clair is a tough lake to swim because of a unique feature of the lake – the current flows directly from northeast to southwest while the wind blows in exactly the opposite direction. This makes for very choppy conditions that make swimming a challenge.
After we’ve passed near the westernmost of the South Channel lights, we will be approximately 4 miles from the mainland, and we will begin heading towards the “9 mile Tower”, an apartment tower located at 9 mile and Lakeshore. This is a 10 mile stretch that we hope to traverse in a relatively straight line. Our final destination is one mile further south at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, located at 8 mile and Lake Shore.
Once we reach the GPYC, we will get out of the water, rest, and have a beer. No word yet on a celebration, but we are working on it…
“SwimmingStClair.com” or “ForRickie.blogspot.com”
Date: Week of August 10, 2009
* Rickie’s birthday is August 10th, and we’d like to have it as close to that date as possible. We are avoiding holding the event during a weekend because of boat traffic, and we understand the Old Club (our beginning point) is closed on Monday the 11th.. Our target is Tuesday, August 11th through Thursday, August 13th. We need to determine a rain date – which would likely be one of the next two days.
Number of People:
* The group of approximately 10 swimmers that will set off in the morning would consist of perhaps up to 3 boats – one for each swimmer (individual) or group of swimmers (relay team). For two individual course swimmers and 2 relay teams, we will represent a group of 18-20 volunteers, plus any others helping with logistics, etc. (14 swimmers, 3-4 boat captains (and boats), 3 EMTs and 2 other volunteers). (Emergency Medical Technicians)
* Each team, boat captain and individual swimmer and fund raising volunteer can help spread the word about the fund raising.
* Proceeds from the event are being used to fund either Rickie’s Medical Trust Fund or the Nation CF Organization. The reality of this disease is that Rickie will likely need a lung replacement at some point in his life, and the purpose of the trust fund is to help prepare him financially for that day. Alternatively, the National CF Organization is a 4-star ranked (Charity Navigator) organization that has received international attention for its efficient processes and its development and implementation of the strategy of venture philanthropy. Three of the four medications that Rickie takes were developed by this organization. They are one of the best disease-oriented charities in the world, and we are proud to be associated with them.