Stamford, Conn. – Oct. 24, 2013 – Proceeds from famed endurance swimmer Diana Nyad’s 48-hour swim marathon will fund art therapy and health counseling for Hurricane Sandy survivors in two of New York City’s hardest hit neighborhoods.
In the Rockaways, where residents are still repairing damaged homes and some local businesses have yet to reopen, swim proceeds will fund a yearlong expressive art therapy program for 150 of the youngest Sandy survivors. The Action Center for Education and Community Development will provide the therapy to children in its after-school program in Arverne. The children’s parents and caregivers – many of whom are still struggling to pay for costly storm repairs and dealing with the added stress of negotiating insurance settlements – will also be invited to participate in group counseling sessions at the center.
In Staten Island, which had the highest number of storm-related fatalities in the five boroughs and sustained some of the most severe damage, swim proceeds will fund a health counselor to screen storm survivors for medical and mental health needs. The Project Hospitality health counselor will work out of the Midland Avenue Relief Center in Midland Beach, where a 14-foot storm surge destroyed block after block of homes in the waterfront neighborhood and shifted some homes off of foundations.
“A year after Sandy ravaged so many New York and New Jersey neighborhoods – with literally thousands of good citizens still homeless and struggling to rebuild their lives – my Xtreme Dream Team felt the imperative to make our statement, that we simply cannot forget our brothers and sisters who are still suffering,” Nyad said. “The 48 hours of swimming in Herald Square, such a vital and emotional event for everybody who participated and watched the live stream, at the very least brought the Sandy story back into the forefront of the public consciousness.”
The Nyad Swim for Relief – a test of endurance and symbol of perseverance embraced by many Sandy survivors from the tri-state area – raised more than $110,000 for AmeriCares Hurricane Sandy Relief Program. Storm survivors, relief workers and celebrities including Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte and fitness guru Richard Simmons swam alongside Nyad in a pool set up in New York City’s Herald Square from Oct. 8-10. Every dollar raised from the event, sponsored by Procter & Gamble, directly benefits programs meeting the health needs of Sandy survivors.
“We thank Diana for helping us meet the long-term needs of Sandy survivors in two of the most devastated neighborhoods,” said AmeriCares President and CEO Curt Welling. “In the Rockaways and Staten Island it doesn’t feel like a year later – the damage is still evident and the emotions still raw. The programs the swim is supporting will help restore a sense of normalcy.”
AmeriCares has been aiding survivors of natural disasters, political conflict and extreme poverty worldwide for more than 30 years, saving lives and restoring health and hope. AmeriCares Hurricane Sandy Relief Program focuses on restoring access to medical care, mental health and case management services in storm-damaged communities. To date, the program has provided $6.5 million in aid benefitting an estimated 450,000 Sandy survivors in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.