Unsung Heroes: Swimming Laps and on a Mission to Fight Cancer

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BY JANIE ROSMAN

Sunday morning was perfect for a plunge — into Germonds Clarkstown Pool for United Hospice of Rockland’s fifth annual Swim Across America-Long Island Sound fundraiser.

Susan Ludzki and Judy Pachter before swimming one mile for SAA-LIS swim/Photo: Kathy Bookman, UHR Director of Development
Susan Ludzki and Judy Pachter before swimming one mile for SAA-LIS swim/Photo: Kathy Bookman, UHR Director of Development

Judy Pachter and her sister Susan Ludzki were among the nine swimmers who raised more than $7,000 during the mile-long swim — 72 laps — for cancer research, patient care and support.

The event was dedicated to the memory of Marc Holland, who passed away unexpectedly in April 2011. A longtime UHR board member and Rockland resident, Holland suggested Swim Across America, which hosts nationwide swims, be held locally.

UHR created its own event that summer in Rockland and raised more than $8,000. “I’m here supporting the event and swimmers for this worthwhile cause,” Marion Holland said of her husband’s idea that became reality.

Pachter, a UHR Board member, is one of three generations of women on the maternal side of her family – 37 percent of daughters, mothers, aunts, and cousins – who have suffered from breast cancer. Others in the family have died from brain and lung cancer.

Despite the challenges of her family, she refuses to give up hope and made it her mission to fight cancer to help her relatives and countless others.

“It’s important for me to continue to raise awareness,” Pachter said. Her niece and daughter are both in treatment via medication following surgeries, and both her sisters are post-surgical.

Per this year’s “Bring a Friend” theme, she swam with Ludzki, her fraternal twin and a 13-year cancer survivor, in honor of family members battling breast cancer. Together they raised $2,822 so far with more expected, surpassing their $2,500 fundraising goal.

Sign at Germonds Pool Clarkstown swim/Photo: Kathy Bookman, UHR DIrector of Development
Sign at Germonds Pool Clarkstown swim/Photo: Kathy Bookman, UHR DIrector of Development

Beneficiaries include UHR, the Cancer Support Team (serving lower Westchester), the Tommy Palazzo Fellowship for Columbia University and Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at Presbyterian Medical Center, Swim Across America and DeMatteo Research Laboratories at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Pachter urged, “Get checked, especially if there’s a family history of breast cancer.”

This season includes eight pool swims with the option of half-mile and one-mile efforts in Westchester and Rockland counties and an open-water swim course on Long Island Sound. Last year the swims raised more than $1 million.

Chapter President Tony Sibio has been with SAA-LIS since it began in 1992. “I continue to be amazed by and thankful for the hundreds of swimmers and volunteers who participate in our annual swims,” he said.

To sponsor Pachter, Ludzki, another swimmer or make a general donation visit http://swimacrossamerica.org/long_island.

Do you have an Unsung Hero? Send your pick to editor@rocklandcountytimes.com.

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