August 02, 2017 06:45 AM
Richard “Ricky” Henahan of Irondequoit, a champion swimmer, plans to make a splash this Saturday for area refugees.
Henahan, 27, will swim the length of Canandaigua Lake —15 miles — to raise funds for Mary’s Place Refugee Outreach. Mary’s Place is a Rochester-based nonprofit helping local refugees.
Henahan will jump in at the Woodville Boat Launch on Route 21 at the south end of the lake at 5:30 a.m. He expects to reach the north end at Kershaw Park in Canandaigua between noon and 1 p.m. He will have one motor boat and three kayakers within range as he tackles the lake, a swim he has been training for during the past year.
The swim will go on, rain or shine, he said.
A natural in water, Henahan has a number of accolades in competitive swimming. A University of Tennessee alum, he was a 12-time Division 1 All American and placed third in the 100 backstroke in 2010, 2011 and 2012 at the Southeastern Conference Championship meet. He also competed in the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Why swim for refugees?
Henahan said he has gotten to know a number of refugees and sees the struggles they have.
“I have found that they are some of the most humble, hardworking, and caring individuals you will ever hope to meet,” Henahan said. “Just like anyone else, they want to live in a society that is safe for their family, and where they can pursue their dreams. I feel a majority of our country doesn’t fully understand who these people are and why they have been resettled here. As a result, people tend to fear them because they are have different cultural backgrounds than our own.
“My goal for fundraising for Mary’s Place and the The Worldwide Tribe is to humanize the refugee experience and put a face to the masses of people who have been displaced by conflict throughout the world,” he added.
“The message I would like to send is that we are a global community and at times, must rely on each other for support. Refugees are a part of that global community and if we fail to help them, we will end up perpetuating the endless cycle of complacency that has lead us to this point.”
Mary’s Place provides a multitude of services for refugees of all faiths and nationalities, especially refugees in the city of Rochester’s Maplewood/Edgerton neighborhood. Services include free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, translation for immigration forms, food distribution and a clothing closet.
The organization was founded in 2009 as an enrichment center for refugees to find independence and gain citizenship, according to its website. When the Outreach Committee of the Cathedral Community saw refugees walking around the Maplewood and Edgerton neighborhoods with flip-flops on and no coats in the winter, they decided to start a simple coat distributor. As a lighthouse project of the Cathedral Community, Mary’s Place was first run out of the rectory of the former Holy Rosary church, using only two rooms. As co-founders saw the needs of the refugee community rise, they expanded their programs to food donation, English classes, after-school tutoring and case work.
Since 2009, Mary’s Place has helped hundreds of refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan.
Henahan asks that donations be pledged through YouCaring, a compassionate crowdfunding site. These donations will directly support The Worldwide Tribe (WWT), a grassroots organization dedicated to providing relief and awareness to refugees in crisis. All funds received will be matched up to $10,000 and given to Mary’s Place.
Julie Sherwood, Messenger Post
Created: August 02, 2017 06:45 AM
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