‘Swim to End Cancer’ honors Asselstine’s dad

Published 3:00 am Thursday, April 7, 2016

Most of those who are dedicated supporters of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life fundraising campaign have good reasons. Sadly, most of those reasons are the loss of a loved one to the disease.

David Asselstine is has a good reason.

He lost his father to cancer a few days before his 15th birthday. That loss was his introduction to cancer.

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Asselstine’s family was living in Portland, Oregon at the time. His dad, who was retired military, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1970 and died five years later. For Asselstine, the loss was devastating.

“My wife’s mother had breast cancer and I’ve had a bout with melanoma,” Asselstine said. “So I know something about cancer on a personal level.”

On April 29, at the Troy Recreation Center indoor pool, Asselstine will sponsor a “Swim to End Cancer” Relay for Life event. The inspiration for the fundraiser was a yellowed newspaper photograph.

Asselstine found the clipping of the photograph of him and his dad having fun in a YMCA swimming pool.

“I was three years old at the time,” Asselstine said. “And, for some reason, the photograph motivated me to do something for the American Cancer Society.”

Asselstine is a member of United States Masters Swimming, which is an organized program of swimming for adults.

“U.S. Masters Swimming is a non-profit program for adults who swim or want to learn to swim,” Asselstine said. “It also promotes good health and that is another reason I wanted to sponsor a ‘Swim to End Cancer’ event. A swim would raise funds for the fight against cancer and also promote good health.”

The “Swim to End Cancer” will be from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Friday, April 29, with pre-registration from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. April 16 at the rec center. The registration fee is $25. Pledges and donations will be welcomed and greatly appreciated.

One lane will be available for 15 minutes per swimmer.

“For those who can’t swim, you can support a swimmer as a sponsor with a pledge or volunteer at the event,” Asselstine said.

Swim caps will be awarded to swimmers and Asselstine said, just to whet competitive spirits, plans are to have a prize for the swimmer who makes the most laps in 15 minutes.

Asselstine recently participated in a swim meet in Auburn where the oldest swimmer was 92 years old.

“Another swimmer was a young woman with a prosthetic leg,” he said. “It was encouraging to see them swimming and I realized even more the health benefits of swimming,” he said.

So, for his dad, Virgil Asselstine, and all of those who have lost their battles with cancer and those who are in the fight, Asselstine is doing what he can to raise funds to help eliminate cancer.

“I’ve never done anything like this before so I guess you could say it’s an experiment,” Asselstine said. “I don’t really know what to expect but I hope to have swimmers and to raise money for the American Cancer Society.”