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Sandy Survivor Swims for Relief

  • October 28, 2013

“It’s just wonderful that groups like AmeriCares don’t forget you and even check up on you to see how you are doing. ”
Karen Zboinski, Sandy survivor“Unreal.” That’s how Elissa Zboinski, 13, described her experience swimming next to Diana Nyad during Swim for Relief, a 48-hour event that raised funds for programs addressing the unmet needs of Hurricane Sandy survivors. One year later, Sandy’s devastation is still very real for thousands of families like Elissa’s. The Zboinskis and their extended family lost 8 homes in the Midland Beach neighborhood of Staten Island. Elissa’s family’s home was flooded with 6 feet of water, and the back half was knocked off of its foundation. One year after the storm hit, only 3 of their family members have returned home, and just 3 out of 10 houses on their block are currently inhabited.“People are forgetting,” explained Elissa’s mother, Karen. “People are going on with their lives without realizing that so many are still suffering.”Stories like Elissa’s is what prompted Diana Nyad to embark upon the 48-hour continuous swim in New York City’s Herald Square on October 8-10, inviting fans, celebrities, relief workers and Sandy survivors to swim alongside her in the pool in support of AmeriCares Hurricane Sandy Relief Program. Elissa was honored to be among those swimmers. On October 8, she jumped in the pool and kept pace with Diana for 15 minutes while family, and spectators cheered her on. Before Elissa left the pool, Diana talked to her about swimming and school, and gave her a hug goodbye. “It was absolutely incredible to be in the same pool as Diana,” said Elissa. “To be able to swim with her was even more amazing.” The Zboinskis with Diana Nyad and Curt WellingElissa swims with Diana NyadElissa’s mother described the range of emotions she experienced during the event. “It was difficult – especially hearing others talk about what they lost and what their children lost, but at the same time I thought: ‘Wow, there are so many people that really do still care and still want to help,’” said Karen.To the Zboinskis, the event was much more than a way to raise money for neighborhoods like theirs; it was a way to remind people about the continued need for help.“The event brought awareness back to the front cover,” explained Karen. “It’s an amazing thing that Diana Nyad and AmeriCares have done for the survivors. It’s just wonderful that groups like AmeriCares don’t forget you and even check up on you to see how you are doing.”The Nyad Swim for Relief raised more than $110,000 for AmeriCares, funding programs in Staten Island and the Rockaways. Every dollar raised from the event directly benefits programs meeting the health needs of Sandy survivors.To date, AmeriCares has provided more than $6.5 million in Sandy aid – enough to reach an estimated 450,000 Sandy survivors in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Read More Donate Now