SWIM FOR AFTON: Coast-to-coast swim meet held in honor of swimmer

Published 9:52 am Monday, September 21, 2015

Afton Wallace is gone, but her memory and love of swimming are living on through a new fundraiser for pediatric cancer research.

The Splash For Gold Coast-to-Coast Postal Swim Meet was started by Wallace’s parents Rob and Sheri and their My Mission is Remission Foundation, a local cancer charity. The monthlong event allows people across the country to swim laps, submit their times and compete for prizes while at the same time raising money for cancer research and services.

Afton Wallace died in May at the age of 18, following a yearlong battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma.

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“Afton’s love was swimming. She was part of the swimming community. One of her friends in Jackson, Taylor Bowers, suggested a coast-to-coast fundraiser where everyone could participate,” Rob Wallace said. “The memory part is important. But you feel compelled to do something. Only a small percentage of (cancer research) funding goes toward pediatric cancer research. You spread that around to all the different types and the research budgets are almost zero.”

Splash For Gold is a postal meet, in which people register online and then swim on their own and submit their times. The entry fee is $30, and online registration is available at splashforgold.org.

T-shirts are also for sale on the web site for $20. All donations are tax deductible.

The meet runs through the end of September, which is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. It consists of five events — the 50-, 100- and 500-yard freestyle, the 100-yard individual medley, and the 100-yard backstroke.

Swimmers can complete their events whenever and wherever they want.

“It’s not a timed event. The bigger goal is to participate,” Rob Wallace said. “Anybody can go swim whenever they want to. It doesn’t have to be at a sanctioned event.”

So far, less than 100 people have registered for the Splash For Gold meet. Wallace said the final tally would determine where the bulk of the money raised winds up. A smaller amount will be used to provide local cancer assistance services and people directly affected by the disease rather than being donated to a larger research pool.

“If we have a small amount of money, we’ll help more local things like scholarships and things at the cancer clinic. If we get a bigger amount of money, then we’ll give more to our partner organizations,” Wallace said. “Even if we raise a larger amount, we’ll do the local things.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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