Family makes waves to fight cancer

A Vienna man and his son who now lives in Texas will be taking part next month in the Swim Across America event to raise awareness and funds for those battling cancer.

Vienna resident Gil Rieger, and his son, Andy Rieger, who grew up in Vienna and is a 1991 Mathews High School graduate now living in Houston, Texas, will take part May 4 in the outdoor marathon swim at Lake Houston, 45 miles from Houston.

This spring across the nation, different swim events will take place with participants “making waves” to fight cancer.

Swim Across America unites the swimming community by hosting benefit swims that raise money to fund life-saving cancer research and clinical trials.

Andy Rieger said Team Rae was established in memory of his wife, Jordana Rae, also a 1991 graduate of Mathews High School, and to whom he was married for almost 22 years before she passed away last year.

“Our team name is Team Rae for my wife whose middle name was Rae,” Andy said.

Andy said the event is a charitable open water swim, which was established in the same concept as Run Across America.

Andy said Jodana battled cancer for five years and was a patient at the Houston Medical Center. She passed away in 2018 from colon cancer at age 45.

He said on May 4 there will be swim events across the nation and he looks forward to swimming in Lake Houston, having been a competitive swimmer in college.

Andy — who competed and was the captain of the swim team at West Point, and competed at swim meets at Youngstown State University and also swam at the Trumbull County YMCA — said he is looking forward to his dad also taking part. Also part of Team Rae is a classmate from West Point.

“It has been 20 years since I swam in college. I did a lot of swimming at West Point; I look forward to this. Knowing what we are doing will help other people who are battling cancer is what makes this so important,” Andy said.

Gil Rieger said he will also swim at the event but in a shorter distance category.

“My dad has been training. This will be the first time we have been to Lake Houston,” Andy said.

Gil said he is excited to swim 5K and enjoys taking part in the event with his son.

“When my son called me and told me about his idea, I knew it would be a good one. We have both climbed Mt. Kiliminjaro in Africa 15 years ago, so now we are going to swim in Lake Houston,” Gil said.

“I will fly to Houston to be there for this. What we are doing is helping to raise awareness of cancer. I know what my daughter-in-law faced when she battled cancer,” he said.

Andy said in our lifetime, one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer.

Anyone who wants to donate can visit www.swimacrossamerica. org, click on the donate link and follow the instructions to make a donation supporting either my Gil or Andy individually or Team Rae.

Donations for their effort can be sent to Swim Across America, 11600 N. Community House Road, Suite 100, Charlotte, NC 28277. Checks should be made out to “Swim Across America” and include a note mentioning the swimmer or team being supported (Team Rae or Andy Rieger or Gil Rieger).

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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