Thoughts about Giving: Swim for MS has Many Facets

by Kimberly Goodrich
Senior Director of Development

Earlier this year I made my first contribution to MS Conversations (MSAA’s blog, located at with my thoughts on giving, receiving, and service. In that entry, I spoke of the health benefits of volunteer work, quoting research that found people who volunteer and give of themselves have a greater chance of being happy and healthy than those who do not. In today’s busy society, this sounds like multi-tasking at its best – in helping others, we help ourselves.

As part of our Swim for MS initiative, MSAA offers a great way for you to help others, while helping yourself through fun and exercise. Swimming is known to be one of the best exercises for all ages and body types. It is especially good for those living with chronic illnesses like multiple sclerosis. For more information on the benefits of aquatic therapy and aquatic exercise for individuals with MS, please see the Health and Wellness column from the Summer/Fall 2012 issue of The Motivator.

The Swim for MS initiative has many facets. At its core is our goal to increase the number of people with MS who are able to improve their quality of life through water-based exercise programs. In the next year, this initiative will work to educate individuals with MS on the benefits of aquatic exercise and to increase their opportunity to participate in water exercise.

MSAA is proud to have secured United States Olympic Gold Medalist Missy Franklin as our Swim for MS Ambassador. Missy’s accomplishments in swimming and her enthusiasm for being in the pool enable us to increase the marketing and promotion of the fundraising portion of Swim for MS. This is with the goal of increasing the number of volunteers participating and the donations generated in support of MSAA’s programs and services, including aquatic exercise.

Swim for MS encourages volunteers to swim laps or distances over a set period and collect donation pledges. These challenges can be done individually or through group swims by teams of young and old alike. Volunteers also raise funds through a variety of unique one-day events such as pool parties, water-volleyball tournaments, and cannonball challenges. Unlike more traditional MS fundraising activities, Swim for MS allows individuals with MS at any stage in their journey – from the recently diagnosed to those with limited mobility – to benefit from water exercise and assist in raising donated funds for a vital cause.

On our website, you can read the profiles of some of our swimmers. They can inspire you and give you great ideas for your own Swim for MS challenge. Read about a 7-year-old boy who spent his summer doing cannonballs into his backyard pool, making 500 jumps over the summer while raising money. Or see the high school student from Pennsylvania who hosted a 24-hour swim party to honor his teacher with MS, raising more than $1,700. And then there is the story of Jeannie, who has MS herself and credits her involvement with swimming for giving her back her health. Jeannie’s synchronized Swim for MS included events at three pools and included the synchronized swim team where she is now a regular member. We would like to thank everyone who has or will participate in our Swim for MS program!