Desanne Martin and her son Grant who has swum the Bay for Swim Across America, and benefitted from treatment for cancer at two local SAA beneficiary hospitals. Photos: Tracey Taylor

Grant Martin, 11, swam under the Golden Gate Bridge in September, and he says he’ll do it again. Why? Because Martin wants to follow in his mother Desanne’s footsteps, who also participated in the local effort of nonprofit initiative Swim Across America, and because he has benefited directly from the funds the nonprofit has raised for local hospitals. Martin had surgery for cancer and now only has one kidney. He can’t play contact sports but otherwise he’s doing well — and he can swim.

Grant was at the CHORI library at the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland on Monday to see Swim Across America present a check for $110,000 to Julia Saba, a senior scientist at the hospital. Grant was treated both there and at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital which had received another $110,000 check earlier that day from the charity.

Berkeleyan Susan Helmrich, Co-Director of SF Bay Area SAA, who herself has come through major surgeries for cancer, and swum the Bay several times, says she’s thrilled with the amount of money that’s going to the hospitals — and that it’s staying right here.

Swim Across America presents a $110,000 check to Oakland’s Children Hospital. L to R: Scientist Bruce Ames, SAA Co-Event Director Anthony DuComb, SAA Co-Event Director Susan Helmrich, scientist Julia Saba, Alexander H. Lucas, Research & Executive Director, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, and Olympian and SAA Executive Director Janel Jorgensen

“Unlike many national initiatives, the money raised locally by SAA stays local,” she says. The nonprofit added Oakland’s Children’s Hospital to its work with UCSF four years ago and it has increased the charity’s visibility in the Bay Area, she says. “Many Berkeleyans support SAA, both by swimming and fundraising.”

There is much belt tightening at Children’s Hospital, Saba explained, which makes such donations particularly welcome. “But our mission is to take care of all children, regardless of whether they can pay,” she said.

Saba says the money raised by SAA will be split between two labs at CORI. Firstly to the department run by eminent investigative scientist Bruce Ames, who was present on Monday to see the check presentation. Ames is well-known as the inventor of the Ames Test, which determines whether a chemical compound might act as a carcinogen. The second recipient is the lab of dermatologist Ervin Epstein who conducts groundbreaking work in skin cancers.

Berkeleyside is proud to be a sponsor of Swim Across America. The next Swim Across America SF Bay swim is scheduled for September 29, 2012. For more information, visit the Swim Across America website.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...