Vienna native part of Swim Across America
Vienna native Andy Rieger took on the challenge this spring along with his father, Gil Rieger of Vienna, in the first Swim Across America fundraiser held at Lake Houston in Texas.
The event raises money and awareness to help those battling cancer. Rieger was part of Team Rae, named in honor of his wife, Jordana Rae, who died at age 45 in April 2018.
Andy Rieger, who resides in Houston, said he swam the 5-kilometer event in the lake near Houston while his father swam the half mile.
âThis was the inaugural event in Houston. The weather was looking really bad for the event right up until the morning of the swim. We were actually delayed a few hours to start, but it turned out to be a great event,ã Andy Rieger said.
He said he, his father and West Point classmate Amber Dossey all survived their respective swims and in addition to swimming, raised over $9,000. The overall charity event raised near $170,000.
The funds will go to support cancer research at MD Anderson, which is based out of the Medical Center in Houston.
While the three swam, Riegerás mother, Casey; his daughter, Aurora, and one of Auroraás friends, Elle Draper, volunteered at the event.
âIt was a great event run by some great people to benefit a great cause. Before we swam, the top individual and team fundraisers weáre recognized,ã Andy Rieger said
He said Team Rae finished fourth in the overall team events.
Andy Rieger said people shared their own stories about why they competed, and a few Olympians were also present.
The Riegers said they plan to be back next year and will try to get a few more people to join.
âWe all felt really good to do something that will help others. Almost half of the money raised by Team Rae came from residents of northeast Ohio,ã Andy Rieger said,
He said swimmers got to choose the distance of their event.
Both Andy Rieger and his wife, Jordana, were 1991 graduates of Mathews High School and were married for 22 years. Jordana battled cancer for five years and was a patient at the Houston Medical Center.
Andy Rieger was the captain of the swim team at West Point. He competed at swim meets at Youngstown State University and also swam at the Trumbull County YMCA
Gil Rieger said different swim events took place this spring across the nation âmaking wavesã to fight cancer. Money will be used for life-saving research and clinical trials.
âWhen my son called me and told me about his idea, I knew it would be a good one. We have both climbed Mount Kiliminjaro in Africa 15 years ago, so now we swam in Lake Houston,ã Gil Rieger said.