Four YMCA Swimmers for a Cause

Four local swimmers, from the Somerset Hills YMCA, banded together to compete in arduous Manhattan Swim races and raise money for Y programs that are close to their hearts.

Four Y Swimmers Band Together for a Cause

The Somerset Hills YMCA celebrates the success of local swimmers to achieve extraordinary aquatic endeavors, all in the name of philanthropy. The four swimmers, Alex Klippel and Martino Caretto of Basking Ridge, Paul Kiell of Far Hills, and Sue Lawson of Bernardsville, banded together to raise money for Y programs that are close to their hearts.

The first endeavor was on August 15 when the team of four swimmers successfully swam the turbulent waters around the island of Manhattan, a 28.5 mile journey, to raise funds for the Y’s Saturdays in Motion program. Saturdays in Motion is a recreational program for children with autism and their families, which is held at the Somerset Hills YMCA.

The four-person relay team, including Klippel, Caretto, Kiell and Lawson, finished the arduous Manhattan Island Swim in 8 hours and 15 minutes. Their finish time was especially impressive considering that Kiell, at 81 years old, was the oldest participant in the race and Klippel is just 14 years old.

The swimmers have strong associations with the Saturdays in Motion program. Caretto’s son, Richard, was an ardent volunteer for the program prior to losing his life to bi-polar disorder. Klippel and Lawson, likewise, have been volunteers and Kiell has been a strong supporter of the program. Remarkably, as a result of the Manhattan Island Swim endeavor, the team raised $5,000 to support the Saturdays in Motion program at the Somerset Hills YMCA.

“I was glad to have done the race. I learned how to work together as a team and I realized how big Manhattan really is!” explains young Klippel of his experience. “It was an accomplishment just to finish the race, but to know that we were raising money for a good cause made it that much better.” He went on to say, “Volunteering for Saturdays in Motion has taught me that I can help kids with special needs and have a lot of fun with them at the same time.”

To add to their fundraising efforts for Y programs, Paul Kiell and Martino Caretto took on another open-water swim. On Saturday August 18, the two-man team successfully completed a 17.5 mile swim from Battery Park in Manhattan to Sandy Hook in New Jersey. This endeavor was to raise money for the Somerset Hills YMCA’s Camp Inspiration Program, which provides financial assistance to local families in need so their children can attend Y day and resident summer camps.

Finishing in 5 hours and 39 minutes, the two men completed the race in the middle of the 27 competitors from around the world, representing seven countries and seven states.

Kiell remembers how important summer camp has been to his life. “I often think of when I went to camp at age 8 and how it has made a difference in my life – particularly learning how to swim,” explains Kiell. “How grateful I am now that my parents had the wisdom and the means to scrape up the $10 a week to send me to camp during the depression. It was such a blessing to me and I think about all of the parents unable to afford camp for their children. I believe children should have an opportunity to partake of all the wonderful benefits of an outdoor camp.”

Saturdays in Motion is a highly regarded volunteer-run program hosted at the Somerset Hills YMCA in Basking Ridge, NJ. Here, autistic children and their families regularly join together to enjoy two hours of fun and games, much of it in the water. The program is designed so that children with varying levels of autism can play at their own pace on the mats and gymnastics equipment and swim for an hour in the pool with the help of volunteers.

Camp Inspiration is a scholarship program designed to offer the gift of day or resident summer camp to local disadvantaged or troubled children, aged 4 to 17. Last year alone, the Y allocated almost $101,000 in camper scholarships to 103 children in our community who are at risk because of all that summer brings —  loneliness, boredom, a lack of supervision and temptation.

All of the funds raised by the swimmers will benefit the Saturdays in Motion and Camp Inspiration programs. The Y congratulates the swimmers on their fundraising efforts and thanks the many members of the community who supported them.  

To contribute to these fundraising efforts, tax deductible donations can be made online at www.somersethillsymca.org or by sending your check to the Somerset Hills YMCA, 140 Mount Airy Rd., Basking Ridge NJ 07920.

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