Making waves for a good cause

KELLEY'S ISLAND Where Jeni Hammond and Cindra Mielke started their annual charity swim is a mystery,
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

KELLEY'S ISLAND

Where Jeni Hammond and Cindra Mielke started their annual charity swim is a mystery, but their reason for braving the Lake Erie surf wasn't -- to grant wishes for kids.

The friends' 13th swim is a special number this year, not because either is a superstitious person, but because it just might be the year the two go beyond another number -- $100,000.

Hammond dubbed the duo's annual swim to raise money for locally sponsored Make-A -Wish Foundation children the "mystery swim" because she decided for her 50th birthday they would surprise themselves with a last-minute route they expect to take four hours.

When Cindra turns 50, she can choose, Hammond said in the spirit of a true friend not disclosing Mielke's age.

The swim for good intentions started years ago as a casual conversation between friends regarding how difficult it was to swim from Marblehead to Kelleys Island.

On a lark, the five friends jumped in one Sunday. Mielke and Hammond loved it, the others decided to stay on land and not participate in a repeat performance.

Hammond and Mielke decided the long distance swims should benefit someone other than themselves and began a yearly swim to raise money for area children in need, later partnering with the foundation.

"This is really all about the kids because they're so amazing, sure we're swimming to raise money, but it's all about doing something for them," Hammond said.

This year's wish children are Mallory Streacker of Fremont and Trent Canfield of Sandusky.

So far the duo has raised $7,000 for Canfield's trip to Disney World and Streacker's trip to the rainforest and white water rivers of Costa Rica.

Canfield, 9, has cerebral palsy with additional health complications including seizures, bladder and kidney problems, a blood disease and brain development issues. Streacker, 14, has a heart defect.

When they finish the swim, they'll have a reunion picnic with current and previous years' wish children.

For the Canfield family it's a much needed vacation for the family of five.

"We can't wait -- we are going to Give Kids the World," Christie Canfield said. "It's a place suited to handicap kids. Just going anywhere is hard, but I think to go on vacation at a place like that will be a relief from the day-to-day stress."