More than 240 swimmers and kayakers took to the water at Wednesday to raise money to help the Puget Sound Blood Center bring new people into the national bone marrow registery.
It costs $100 to test and type each person in the national database, which is used to find perfect matches for people with blood diseases, such as leukemia, that respond to bone marrow transplants, said CEO and President James AuBuchon.
The 60 teams raised more than $60,000, which will help 600 people get tested and placed on the bone marrow registry, AuBuchon said.
Among the swimmers was 80-year-old Bellevue resident Frank Cokan, a retired physician turned 43 time Ironman triathlete and 24 time Ironman Hawaii triathlete of which he won ten times in his age group, according to the Puget Sound Blood Center.
Wednesday's Swim for Life was the 14th annual such event for the Bellevue-based Puget Sound Blood Center, which provides blood to patients with leukemia, cancer, burns, hemophilia and traumatic injuries throughout Western Washington and the Northwest.
The participants aimed to cross the open water of Lake Washington to Madison Park Beach in Seattle, which is 2.25 miles away, but the physical challenge and the challenge to raise money for a good cause is worth it, said Puget Sound Blood Center volunteer Liz Azose of Seattle.
Azose wanted to do something "extraordinary" for her birthday several years ago and took on the challenge of swimming across Lake Washington. Her birthday challenge also raised money for the Puget Sound Blood Center, where she is a volunteer.
Check out our video of the start of Wednesday's challenge.
Editor's note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated Frank Cokan's age.