The 24-hour pool swim in Palm Springs was a bonding community experience. I have so many people to thank. First of all, except for my two longtime buddies, Candace and LeAnne, I had no idea if I'd be swimming most of the hours alone.
But my friend Peg McCloud, who organized the entire event with the Director of the Palm Springs Parks & Rec Dept, Vicki Oltean, busted out fliers and local media buzz... and the Palm Springs swimmers showed up, big time!! Literally every minute of the 24 HOURS, there was at least one swimmer keeping pace in the lane next to me. Laura at 3 am. Robert at 5am. Alicia and Rebecca and Jessica and Amy. And so many more. I took to open rather than flip turns and when Alicia paced me we would glance at each other and give a quick nod on every single turn. She gave me such spirit.
And Bonnie. There she was, as always. For 24 HOURS, she was at every turn, every feed, solving every problem, anticipating every next solution. Bonnie is a rock. All the right athletic instincts from her own days as a professional athlete. All the compassion of a best friend. All the determination and stamina to lead me to the finish line. I hope all of you have such a friend in your lives.
I found myself thinking Boston Strong at many moments. It's true that any community in America would rally if wounded by such detestable criminal acts. To wit, New York and Oklahoma City. But we saw the heart and soul of Boston, our centuries-old city of blue-collar blood, run and lift with courage deserving of medals of honor. I found myself grieving over the four precious lives lost. And I grit my teeth with anger to picture those innocents now coping with devastating injuries.
Boston Strong. We Americans admire you. You are a special, beloved people. A treasured city of our treasured country. Peace and hope be with you, Boston.
Many laps I also imagined what life would be like if a raging hurricane ripped the roof off my home, tore the floor boards to the Heavens, and left me and my neighbors homeless, with zero recourse to start anew. What if FEMA had not come through with funds? What if my Homeowners Insurance was telling me my loss doesn't fall under their umbrella, that I need to collect from Flood Insurance? Yet Flood is telling me no, it's Homeowners' responsibility. So I'm living with my family in a flea-bag motel for seven months now. No refrigerator. No stove. And the state will stop payment for this room on May 1.
After Hurricane Sandy ravaged many New York and New Jersey communities last fall, I began a dialogue with the Head Legal Counsel of New York City, Carol Robles-Roman. A month later, a plan was hatched.
We are building a custom pool and we're going to install it in Times Square at the start of 2013 Hurricane Season. Starting Tuesday morning, May 28, I will swim in one lane for 48 continuous hours. In the lane next to me, we will invite all kinds of notable New Yorkers, from professional athletes to Broadway stars, to media personalities, to do a few laps.
We will also welcome the public at large to swim in the Times Square pool as well.
All the money we raise by this event, called NYAD 48, will go to Hurricane Sandy Relief.
The statement made is "We have not forgotten you". Just as we ourselves would hope we would not be forgotten.
Good Morning America will be our media partner, broadcasting live all three mornings. May 28, 29, 30. Thanks in advance to George Stephanopoulos and Sam Champion for their great spirit in volunteering to swim some minutes each!
So, this past weekend's 24-HOUR in Palm Springs was on one hand a singular experience for all of us, on site and those of you who so kindly encouraged from afar.
But it was also training for NYAD 48.
Trust me, I don't for a moment underestimate how challenging those hours are going to be.
Keep following us as we will soon announce both the donation site for our Hurricane Sandy Relief... and give you the sign-up details for swimming and helping pace me in Times Square.
ONWARD, my friends, ONWARD!!