TAMPA, FL. – Wyatt Deaton was only seven years old when his mom Michelle was diagnosed in 2018 with a rare form of breast cancer called secretory carcinoma (which actually used to be called Juvenile Carcinoma because average age this type of cancer was found was in nine-year-olds).
But Michelle was 45 years old when he was diagnosed.
“‘You have CANCER’ are three words you never want to hear,” said Michelle Deaton. “And to have to tell your seven-year-old son that is especially hard. Wyatt was so young, but he immediately started thinking about what he could do to help me get better. Raising money for Swim Across America and for pediatric cancer research was the challenge he was looking for — and needed at that moment.”
Wyatt signed up to swim in the Swim Across America Tampa open water swim with Team Tampa Elite Aquatic Manta Rays, and has been swimming with them for the past three years. In addition to swimming and raising money for cancer, Wyatt is a straight-A student.
This year, at age 11, Wyatt has challenged himself to swim a mile in the open ocean and raise at least $2,000 (which he reached his fundraising goal at the beginning of March 2022!) He swam 1/2-mile in 2021 raising $1,500.
“We are so proud of all Wyatt is doing to help make waves and fight cancer,” said his Mom Michelle. “Wyatt swims in honor of me – I’m a cancer thriver – and for family and friends who have lost their battle or are fighting now.” Michelle is currently in remission and has been cancer-free for three years.
As one of the youngest swimmers to participate in the Tampa open water swim, and one of the youngest in the nation to participate in a Swim Across America event, Wyatt is being featured in Swim Across America’s 35th anniversary campaign and is featured on the nonprofit’s website at swimacrossamerica.org/35.
Swim Across America was founded in 1987 and went from a sunken boat in Long Island Sound to raising $100 million to fight cancer. This year celebrates Swim Across America’s 35th anniversary and the nonprofit organization is sharing “35 Stories of Impact” throughout the decades with a special website at swimacrossamerica.org/35.
In the 35 years, more than 100,000 swimmers and Olympians have swum the circumference of the earth three times uniting a movement to fight cancer that has created a groundswell of support spanning all generations.
Today, more than 24 communities hold open water swims and charity pool swims each year, which over the 35 years, have raised $100 million supporting innovative cancer research, detection, and patient programs.
Swim Across America’s funding of clinical trials for patients helped contribute to four FDA-approved life-saving immunotherapy cancer treatments: Yervoy, Opdivo, Tecentriq, and Keytruda.
More than 60 scientific grants are funded each year and there are ten dedicated Swim Across America Labs at major institutions including: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, John Hopkins Medicine Baltimore, Rush University Medical Center Chicago, Baylor Scott & White Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center at Dallas, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center New York, Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Palliative and Supportive Care of Nantucket, Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Lounge at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland and San Francisco and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
The May 7, 2022, Swim Across America Tampa open water swim takes place at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg, Florida, where hundreds of swimmers will spend the morning swimming ½-mile, 1-mile and 2-mile distances to raise funds to fight cancer.
Funds raised will go to the local Tampa beneficiary Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. To learn more about the Houston swim or to register to swim or volunteer, visit swimacrossamerica.org.