Monmouth Beach, NJ - Victoria Cassidy, a 19 year old top five swimmer at the University of Maryland, cut through the competition of 165 swimmers, including 88 men, fought against the current in the last leg and won in The Shana Ocean Mile Swim record time of 17:14:45. Jeff Jotz, five time winner in his class and second overall this year, has been swimming open water races since 1987, the year Shana was born.
1st Place Overall Jersey Girl Victoria Cassidy flanked on right by Jeff Jotz, 2nd place Overall and Joe Carroll on left, 3rd Place Overall Winners of The 5th Annual Shana Ocean Mile Swim
Nancy Steadman Martin, who swam across the English Channel and around Manhattan was 2nd Woman Overall. Joe Carroll and John Forrester took 2nd and 3rd place, respectively, in the Men's Overall and Nora Shee was the 3rd place in the Women's Overall. Christopher Cruz won the kid’s 100 yard splash!
Founded by Monmouth Beach residents Madeline Wasserman and her daughter Leah, The Shana Foundation is named after Shana Wasserman, who was a 19 year old swimmer when she lost her life in the Emergency Room to complications of bacterial meningitis. Shana handpicked her volunteer crew while teaching swimming at the Monmouth Beach Bathing Pavilion, where the event is held each year. Shana's friends and students have remained dedicated and each year through this event honor Shana and their fond memories of an inspirational girl who has become a local legend.
Many of the swimmers in this year's race had been taught by Shana, including the children of Race Director Mary Mazzacco and Mary’s brothers, Billy and Dan George, the Race Course and Safety Directors, who along with volunteer Mark Racioppi are National Rowing Champions. Their invaluable contribution to course safety strong-arming the Ray Licata Memorial Swim Safety Boat was assisted by a crew of four Monmouth Beach lifeguards paddling on surfboards around the perimeter of the buoys on the relatively calm sea. Long time Monmouth Beach resident Joe Chichello again put on quite a jet ski show while providing safety patrol during the race. All the accompanying staff, Allison Mahon, Mary Kate and Sarah George, Kaylee and Patti Mikolon, Brian Prinsell, Nory Milagros, Susan Balina, Caroline Mazzacco, Caroline Quatrocchi, Duffy and Patrick Thorman return to help year after year because Shana was their friend. John Majeski of Serv Pro, Eatontown and Long Branch , was a lifeguard at The Monmouth Beach Bathing Pavillion, when Shana made a lasting impression and captured his heart.
Since 2007, The Shana Foundation, a public charity, has been educating both the public and professionals about the dangers, warning signs and treatment protocol of bacterial meningitis. It has produced an educational animation video viewed via social media to reach students across America. The Shana Foundation also runs an innovative awareness program through the prominent placement of bacterial meningitis treatment protocol plaques in hospital emergency rooms to serve the Foundation's goal of saving lives. When a plaque is presented to a hospital, Dr. Allan Tunkel, Chair of the Department of Medicine, Monmouth Medical in Long Branch and one of the nation's leading experts in bacterial meningitis, educates ER doctors. A video of Dr. Tunkel’s lecture is available on the Foundation's website.
Shana was a vibrant 19 year old freshman at college in Vermont, where she was on the campus cross-country and ski teams. In November 2006, Madeline brought her to the local hospital emergency room with what appeared to be flu symptoms. Within 24 hours, Shana was in a coma from what the doctors suspected to be meningitis. Shana had contracted the meningitis strain streptococcus pneumoniae from which she was not protected by the vaccine required for campus living. Tragically, a vaccine that could have prevented Shana’s illness existed, but had not been administered. For this reason, The Shana Foundation was formed and supports research to develop a conjugate vaccine effective against streptococcus pneumoniae.
"Young children and college students, particularly freshmen living in campus residence halls, are especially at risk," Madeline Wasserman emphasizes. "Because of its highly communicable nature, bacterial meningitis is a significant threat to young adults. The Shana Foundation enlists college students to disseminate information through onsite presentations, events and internet technology to those who are the most vulnerable. Wasserman adds: "We have to ensure that all incoming college freshmen receive a pneumococcal vaccine. As part of this endeavor, we want to continue to enlist and train student teams to make special presentations and hang public awareness posters on college campuses across the country."
Honored for her efforts, founder and Director Madeline Wasserman has been awarded a resolution by the New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly. Recently, The Shana Foundation was awarded a Google Grant providing up to $10,000 in ADWORDS as free advertising each month. The Shana Foundation is currently raising money to enhance its existing online campaign, its educational animation, Shana’s Rainbow and the accompanying comic book to reach children and their parents in an effort to spread awareness and prevent a deadly disease. The Google Grant brings people throughout the United States to The Shana Foundation website, but Wasserman reminds us that more work is needed to finish the educational campaign Americans look to for the information they need quickly.
The 4th Annual Shana Surf Jam Pro Am Surfing tournament will be held the first weekend in October and will have tents, vendors, music and world class surfers. All are welcome. The Shana Foundation seeks corporate sponsors for this event. Sponsorship opportunities and complete results and photos from the swim race as well as the educational animation are available at the website www.TheShanaFoundation.org