www.youtube.com

Underfunded Children's Cancer Gets A New Champion: A Swimmer Mom

Former elite, record-breaking swimmer takes on her most difficult challenge - her son's cancer. But, thanks to some love, support, and love for swimming,... her son (and her family) is stronger than ever.


Mary Ellen Blanchard Warta is a well-known figure in Atlanta. She was a champion swimmer at Stanford University, breaking the U.S. Open record in the 200-yard breaststroke and in 1989 and 1991, she went on to win 10 National titles. While she swam at Stanford, the team won four straight NCAA swimming championships. In 2011, she was inducted into the Gwinnett Sports Hall of Fame in Georgia.

In 2012, Mary Ellen's son Jonas was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina, when he was just 3 years old. After getting his right eye removed and starting chemotherapy, just 3 months later Jonas beat his cancer and was fitted with a prosthetic eye.

The same year, the president of Swim Across America Janel Joregensen-McArdle and former Stanford teammate of Mary Ellen reached out to her to talk about her family's story. Swim Across America is non-profit that puts on open water swim events to raise money for children like Jonas who are fighting cancer. After speaking to the group in Atlanta, Mary Ellen decided to start Team Jonas—and was ecstatic to use swimming to help find a cure for childhood cancer. "I felt that our gift to Swim Across America was our family's story," says Mary Ellen.

Just 2 swimmers signed up that first summer, raising $2,500, but today, Team Jonas is 60 swimmers strong and has raised over $23,000. The Swim Across America Atlanta group has raised well over $1 million since 2013 and hopes to raise $500,000 this year.

"People want to fight cancer and that's how we unite," says Swim Across America's Director of Events, Megan Melgaard.

Swim Across America is the inspired sequel to a triumphant Run Across America completed by the two founders of SAA, Jeff Keith and Matt Vossler in 1985. In 1987, Keith and Vossler decided to bring their cause back home and transitioned from running to swimming for a cure with a focus on raising money and awareness for cancer research, prevention, and treatment.

All proceeds from the 2016 and 2017 Atlanta swim support pediatric oncology and leukemia research at the Swim Across America Lab, located at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. For more information on Swim Across America, visit swimacrossamerica.org.

This HooplaHa original video was produced by Tracy Chevrier, shot by Gil Braum, and edited by Matt Binetti. To see more inspiring news, follow us on Facebook and sign up for our Only Good News Newsletter.

Watch Episode 8 of The Weekly Good Now on OnlyGood.tv!

TV personality and mother of 2, Marysol Castro shares stories that highlight the good in the world! This week Marysol shares feel-good stories including a ball pit that has its community smiling and a deserving lunch lady who gets an unbelievable surprise, as well as a couple other unexpecting stories that you have to see to believe! Watch the full video now at www.onlygood.tv!

Keep reading... Show less
www.youtube.com

Celebrate Pride With Sharon & Eli's Rainbow Themed Wedding

Barbara Ann Michaels, known as 'Jester of the Peace', is a wedding officiant who specializes in unique, one-of-a-kind wedding ceremonies. In this video, Barbara weds Sharon and Eli, a lesbian couple throwing a vibrant rainbow themed wedding in Central Park!

Keep reading... Show less
www.youtube.com

Puppies Are The Perfect Workplace Stress Reliever!

We all love win-win situations, right? Well, an initiative of the Humane Society of Broward County (HSBC) that we're featuring today takes it to the next level: it's a win-win-win!

Keep reading... Show less

Meet High School Art Student Luis Gonzalez, and Hear About How Art Transformed His Life!

Art classes allow young people to express themselves in important ways. Unfortunately, arts education is disappearing from schools in America; since 2008, 80% of school districts have cut funding for art programs. Simultaneously, student creativity scores have dropped. Fortunately, there are people and groups out there fighting to keep arts education present and vibrant in schools across the country.

Keep reading... Show less

Tennis Program Helps Low Income Teens Develop Resilience On and Off the Court

Tennis is a popular and fun pastime, in that it requires mental focus and athletic ability. But due to the cost of equipment and court time, lots of kids never get the chance to try their hand at the sport. Leaders of the Junior Tennis Champion Center (JTCC) recognized this cost challenge, and decided to do something to change it. In 2009, JTCC launched a Community Outreach initiative, with the goal of introducing underserved kids in Prince George's County, MD, and Washington, DC to tennis. And the program has become an indisputable success.

Keep reading... Show less

Meet The Doggie Dress Designer Whose Fashions Have Inspired So Many!

What's more fun than watching a fashion show? How about a fashion show featuring incredibly cute dogs??

Keep reading... Show less

Man Overcomes Mysterious Illness With The Power Of Positivity – Now He's Helping Others!

Jim Curtis is an award-winning health industry pioneer. But reaching the pinnacle of success, as he has today, was no cake-walk. Only after accepting the curveballs and challenges that life threw his way could Jim find happiness and thrive in his career.

Keep reading... Show less

Universal FanCon Celebrates Diversity and All Who Love Pop Culture!

The inaugural Universal FanCon (FanCon) is the first large-scale, 24-hour, inclusive event that celebrates the diversity of fans, the diversity of fandom, the true needs of those who love pop culture and a celebration of the differences that make us strong. Hosted at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD, April 27-29, 2018, FanCon's mission is to create a sense of belonging by providing authentic connections and experiences through fan-centric parties, programs, panels and partners.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive New Videos
It's a Positivity Movement
OnlyGood.tv

mailbox

Get your Only Good Newsletter