EASTCHESTER, N.Y. Eva Cantalapiedra, Natalia Benejam and Alexa Benejam swam lap after lap in the Lake Isle Country Club Pool Saturday, having fun splashing in the water on a warm summer morning, but knowing that every stroke had meaning.
The three tiny swimmers, out in the water at 6:30 a.m., were members of the Lake Isle Swim team contingent that volunteered to raise funding for cancer research for ‘Swim Across America-Long Island Sound’, a Westchester-based organization in its 19th summer of fundraising.
According to the event organizer ReneeTucker, whose daughter Annelisa was captain for the Lake Island pool swim team, the event set a fundraising record.
“The kids were awesome today,” Renee Tucker said. “The first year here we raised $5,000, so since my daughter was on the team I joined in. This year we are up to about $32,000.”
Among those helping to raise the dollars for laps were the tiniest swimmers.
“I did it because I wanted to see if I could swim a mile and I did it,” said Natalia Benejam, who is 10. “But this is because we raised money to help people.”
The Benejam sisters joined more than 60 Lake Isle swimmers in the fundraiser, to the delight of their father Andy, who stood proudly on the pool deck and watched his girls lap the pool.
“I like swimming and I think it is very good to help charity,” said 8-year-old Alexa Cantalapiedra said. “It’s important for the children to know that there are other people who need help,” Benejam said. “This is a good age for them to learn and understand that so far they have it good, but you don’t know what can happen in the future. This is a time when you are able to help others.”
Young Eva Cantalapiedra quietly and simply expressed her feelings about the morning swim. “I thought it was a nice thing to do,” the spunky 8-year-old said. “I like to swim and wanted to do this with my friends.”
SAALIS Director Tony Sibio, a Thornwood resident, coordinated the event, which combined with several local pool swims and the larger Long Island Sound swim last week have helped raised more than $1,200,000.
“Lake Isle has really done a great job with its pool swims over the last few years,” Sibio said. “Look at the kids. They are giving their time and energy and doing more than they know to help with the fight.”
Janice and Jesus Cantalapiedra completed the family unit, watching their daughter do extra laps after finishing her fundraising laps. “My daughter is loving this and that’s important to me,” Janice Cantalapiedra said. “They know they’re helping people and as long as she is enjoying it, we’re happy too.”