Big Swim raises big bucks for children's camp

Ancelene MacKinnon
Published on August 17, 2014

Alexandra Pettinaro from Delaware triumphantly comes out of the water after participating in the Big Swim on Sunday, which has people swimming from New Brunswick to P.E.I. to raise money for the GIVETOLIVE charity. 

©Ancelene MacKinnon/ Journal Pioneer

BORDEN-CARLETON – It wasn’t the first time Joachim Stroink participated in the Big Swim, but this year he was able to commemorate the life of a friend.

The 14-kilometre swim, from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island, was in memory of his friend, Kirk, who did the Big Swim last year and later lost his battle with cancer.

Stroink and a friend took turns carrying Kirk’s ashes during the swim.

“Now that we’re on the beach, we’re going to spread them in the (Northumberland) Strait. This is our way of saying he’ll always be part of us with the Big Swim.”

Stroink was one of 49 people who took part in this annual fundraiser for the Give to Live charity.

Todd McDonald, an organizer for the Big Swim, said 100 per cent of this year’s proceeds are going to Brigadoon Village, a camp for chronically ill children in Nova Scotia. As of late Sunday afternoon, the total raised was at $300,000 and counting.

Tyler Oed, 12, went to Brigadoon Village this summer, and is thankful he was able to experience the camp.

“It was awesome. It was nice to know that other people were going for the same reason with having a disease.”

Tyler, who watched Sunday’s event, said it’s great that money is being raised for people who can’t afford to go, adding that the camp is a place he would recommend.

“The people were there to help. I had a lot of fun and I met a lot of friends.”

Mary-Helen McLeese was the only participant from Prince Edward Island this year and this was her first time being involved.

“It was really tough, but now that I know I can do it, I would definitely be interested in doing it again.”

McLeese’s sister lives in New Brunswick, so they thought it would be a fun accomplishment to do together.

“It’s something to look back on and really feel proud of yourself.”

McDonald said the experience is one that can’t be bought.

“One of the pillars of our organization is achieving the extraordinary, and that is what we encourage people to do.

“It’s a lifetime memory.”

Stewart Martens from Washington, D.C., was the first swimmer to make it across the Northumberland Strait.

“This is my second year and I loved it,” said Martens. “I was really pleased with how the day went.”

Martens said this year’s swim was more difficult because the current was strong, but he’s looking forward to his third year.

“It’s great to raise money for charity and the swim is phenomenal.”

For more information about the swim or to donate, visit