‘Amazing act of friendship’ for swimmer
PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 September 2016
When a South Mimms swimmer was unable to take part in a challenge because of a cancer diagnosis, his friend stepped in to save the day.
Andrew Butcher, 69, of Branch Lane, wanted to participate in the Aspire Channel Swim 2016, starting in September, but was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus and needs to undergo chemotherapy as soon as possible.
Jim Donlon, from Albany in New York, met Andrew on a swimming app and they have been friends ever since, challenging each to swimm ever further distances.
Now Jim will take over the challenge, swimming the 22-mile distance of the English Channel in his New York outdoor swimming pool. He has already raised over $1,000 for the spinal chord injury charity Aspire.
Andrew, who is married and has a 34-year-old daughter, said: “It’s an amazing act of friendship.
“We only know each other through the app. I said I was having to undergo chemo and he approached Aspire and said was there any way he could swim on my behalf.
“He arranged that he would be able to do it and raise money for Aspire in my name.
“Because I was having problems with the app I was in touch with Speedo and they picked up on it. They then asked about it and sent us a wonderful package of goodies.
“Currently Jim is the second highest fundraiser for Aspire and they haven’t even started swimming yet.
“People who know Jim and haven’t got a clue who I am are sending messages to me.”
Last year Andrew swam 44 miles, the equivalent of the round trip across the English Channel and back, in different pools around the country while working as a volunteer driver.
During the challenge, which must be completed over a 12-week period, he swam in more pools than any of the other 4,500 people taking part.
Jim said: “Andrew usually does this swim annually but this year faces a greater challenge, cancer and chemo. So I am taking his place this year.
“Please, can you help, even in a small way? Together we can make a difference to the lives of others.”