Leah Anderson was a little girl who loved to swim. She began learning at Aqua-Tots swim school as a toddler, and quickly decided the butterfly stroke was her favortie. Leah was diagnosed with Wilm’s Disease, Stage IV in January 2009 at the age of 3. She underwent surgery at Scottish Rite, and started chemo in February 2009 in efforts to reduce the tumor to an operable size. On April 1, 2009, Leah’s left kidney and tumor were successfully removed, and eight days later, radiation treatment began on the area and on the lungs. The surgery and treatments were successful, and in January 2012, Leah was transferred to the cancer survivor clinic! Unfortunately, in July 2012 she was diagnosed with leukemia: 20% of Leah’s marrow had a secondary cancer known as AML – a nasty form of leukemia. Leah was only the 9th child in the WORLD to develop AML after Wilm’s. She was admitted to Egleston Hospital where she received intense chemotherapy, and a donor match was quickly found! Following the transplant, however, the fight was even harder and she experienced significant ups and downs.
Throughout Leah’s journey there were tears, laughter, games, pranks, songs, special events and visitors – new friendships made and old ones deepened. Sadly, Leah Marie Anderson, age 7, of Dallas, GA, passed away on Thursday, January 10, 2013.
Swim Across America:
In honor of Leah and her brave fight, Aqua-Tots owner Malena Hankins, along with others, formed Team Leah to participate in the inaugural Swim Across America event in Atlanta held at Lake Spivey on May 5, 2013. Swim Across America is dedicated to raising money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment through swimming-related events. Team Leah certainly did their part! They exceeded their goal of $1,000 – making them an SAA Superstar participant – and completed the swim, even though the weather was less than cooperative (read: rainy and freezing!).
And they weren’t the only ones who braved the weather in support of this great cause. There were over 200 kids at the Olympian Clinic with 12 Olympians, 4 National Team members and a handful of Swim Atlanta coaches. Over 300 people registered for the Open Water Swim at Lake Spivey, raising $250,000 for pediatric cancer research at the race’s beneficiary, Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Leah’s mom, Rona Roberts, spoke to the participants after the race:
more about Leah’s story: greateractsthanthese.blogspot.com
Swim Across America: swimacrossamerica.org