Monday, April 25, 2016

Why do we swim? For the love of a sister - Joanne Sadlowski

By Cindy Sabato, Director of Communications

Joanne Burrows Sadlowski is coming home from Texas this summer for the Save The Bay Swim. She spends time here every summer, but this summer is special: she’s swimming for her sister-in-law, Alice Burrows.

After an unknown disease crept into her body years ago and began to steadily degrade her mobility, strength and peace of mind, Alice, 55, was finally diagnosed with a rare form of terminal cancer in December. With the support of friends and family members, she’s now undergoing rigorous chemotherapy that will last the rest of her life.

As a little girl, Alice’s Pawtucket family spent their summers at beaches all over the state, swimming, fishing, and picnicking; she passed that tradition on to her own children. She married her husband by the Point Judith Light House, and before she got sick, they often sat at Rocky Point looking out over the water or riding bikes along the East Providence bike path with the Bay at their side. “From my house in Narragansett, I hear the waves crashing on the shore. I guess we have always gravitated to the beautiful Rhode Island waters,” Alice said.

“Alice is my beach buddy. We sit and talk about all of life’s problems while tucked under a beach umbrella watching the ocean. I can’t calculate the number of hours we’ve spent together on the beach. We both love Narragansett Bay,” said Joanne, who only recently resumed swimming after taking years off to raise her children. “One day, I was paddling along, and thought, ‘what if I do the Save The Bay Swim, and do it in Alice’s honor?’”

Alice, of course, was in. “It is so important to preserve the beauty and life of our Bay so our children’s children can continue to enjoy it and experience the same fun we did as children. I am so proud of Joanne. I could never do what she will be doing in August. I will be living vicariously through her.” 

The 40th Save The Bay Swim will be Joanne’s fourth. The difference between this one and her first three, she says, “is about 24 years,” which means she’s kicking up her training a notch. “If I am tired and don’t feel like working out, I think of Alice. She is always so positive. If she can force herself to go to chemotherapy, I can force myself to go to the pool.” 
 
“I am so excited for this swim. In the past, I loved swimming halfway across and taking a minute to look up at the Newport bridge, and seeing all the people swimming for this great cause. These are some of the best memories in my life,” Joanne said.