By Todd Cohen
GREENSBORO, N.C. — When he was a ninth-grader at Grimsley High School in Greensboro and a member of its swim team, John Dewey was diagnosed with melanoma. He underwent treatment, and then resumed swimming his sophomore year. His junior year, he won the state championship in the 100-yard freestyle.
But Dewey’s cancer returned his senior year. Although he was not able to swim, he assisted the team and was offered a full scholarship at North Carolina State University by its swimming coach. Dewey died in 1970, the spring of his senior year at Grimsley.
In 1973, Bob Sawyer, the long-time swimming coach at Grimsley and at the Greensboro Swimming Association launched a citywide swim event in memory of Dewey to raise money for cancer research. The event raised $3,000.
Since 1988, the effort has been known as “Swim for Cancer” and has raised a total of more than $2.5 million for the American Cancer Society. It is the charity’s longest-running fundraising campaign and the largest fundraising swim event in the U.S.
To raise money, members of the 23 local clubs in the Greensboro Swimming Association swim laps and participate in activities ranging from car washes and lemonade stands to babysitting and parties.
The annual effort culminates each year at a “City Meet” that includes swimmers, coaches, volunteers and representatives from the American Cancer Society.
This year’s meet was held July 9, 10 and 11 at the Greensboro Aquatics Center.
In June, the Blue Dolphins swim team at Greensboro Country Club aims to raise $50,000 during its 27th annual Swim for Cancer”event, bringing the total it will have raised to over $1 million and making it the first swim team in the U.S. to raise that amount for the American Cancer Society.
To support the swim team and help meet the goal, the Greensboro Country Club has undertaken club-wide programs to get its entire membership involved.
Special fundraising activities at the Club include a golf tournament, tennis event, fitness event, “Breakfast Fighting Cancer” and a family evening of food and entertainment.