As the world prepares to turn their attention to the 2012 Olympic Games, the worldwide pediatric sarcoma community will be gathering in unison to cheer on USA Swimmer Missy Franklin. Besides swimming in the world’s greatest competition, Franklin is lending her support to Dani’s Foundation and their “Race to End Pediatric Cancer” campaign.
Prior to departing for the Olympic Trials, Franklin took time out of her very busy schedule to tape a public service announcement for Dani’s Foundation.
Franklin, the first woman to ever compete in 7 Olympic events, made the time to tape a public service announcement in memory of fellow swimmer Megan Dickey who lost her battle to pediatric sarcoma five years ago. “Whatever I can do to raise awareness for Dani’s Foundation and their efforts to end pediatric sarcoma, I am on it,” she explained. “I hope that my support of this organization will play a part in raising even greater awareness and funding during the coming months.”
“I am hopeful that my family, friends and fans will join with me in supporting Dani’s Foundation,” explained Franklin. “Log on to their website (www.danisfoundation.org) and learn more about how you can become involved as a volunteer or to make a donation. Whatever you do, you will become a Champion in the Race to End Pediatric Cancer!”
Joining Franklin in the Race to End Pediatric Cancer campaign is fellow swimmer Bonnie Bandon. Brandon lost her best friend Megan Dickey to pediatric sarcoma.
Although Brandon missed making the 2012 Olympic Team by just seconds, she will be busy in training for the 2016 games as one of the top recruits for the University of Arizona’s Swim Team. “I am honored to be associated with Dani’s Foundation in memory of my Best Friend Megan,” echoed Brandon. “I hope that many of my teammates will join with me and support Dani’s Foundation. We need to put an end to these diseases that are taking the lives of too many children and young adults.”
Dani’s Foundation was formed in memory of those children and young adults who have had or who are currently battling pediatric sarcoma. The Foundation is committed to:
Dani’s Foundation is hoping that many of Franklin’s and Brandon’s fans will join with them this summer and become Champions in the Race to End Pediatric Sarcoma.
To preview Missy Franklin’s and Bonnie Brandon’s public service announcements for Dani’s Foundation, tune to the Channels of 9 News and Altitude Sports Network – who are airing the spots – or visit the Foundation’s website at www.danisfoundation.org.
Missy Franklin Prepares to Be First American Female to Swim in Seven Olympic Events
From the Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/olympicgames/ci_21129712/sports
You can find pockets of pressure at the U.S. swim team’s pre-Olympic training camp if you know where to look. Friendly rivals Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte eye each other respectfully while bracing for the biggest swim races in the London Olympics.
There’s world champion Rebecca Soni, favored to win gold medals in the breaststroke events. They hear snippets of rivals’ comments across the globe. They get flooded with media requests. “So, how many medals will you win — in a 30-word sound bite, please.”
When the American swimmers want to chill out or phase out, they can look up and see the one member of the U.S. team that turns them into happy tourists at Buckingham Palace.
There’s Missy Franklin, a Regis Jesuit High School senior-to-be, break dancing in the team hotel. Or she’s laughing on the pool deck. Or she’s showing everyone the two skirts she bought in France.
“I bought a couple of skirts which are long enough so I can wear them to Regis,” she said. “I was so happy about that. It has to be an inch above your knee. I called my mom: ‘Mom, I found skirts!’ “
She is the U.S. team’s clown princess, master of ceremonies and laugh track on a 24-hour loop. At rookie skit night Wednesday, they played “Celebrity Jeopardy.” She was a dead ringer for Rowdy Gaines.
“Sometimes I feel she’s on a sugar rush 24/7,” Lochte said. “She calms down everyone. A lot of tension can be brought up and she kind of makes you realize how fun swimming is.”
It has been her schtick ever since she jumped in the Heritage Greens pool across the street from her home in Centennial when she was 4 years old. Now she’s six days from her first Olympic medal race. In past Olympics, some older swimmers have had the same reaction in water as last week’s corn flakes.
She’s favored to win the two backstroke events and could win a couple of golds in relays. She is entered in seven events, and no American woman has won more than six medals in a single Olympiad.
Yet her smile is lighting up this team like the Olympic torch in a London subway.
“She really is like a breath of fresh air,” said Elizabeth Beisel, Franklin’s rival in the 200-meter backstroke and a 2008 Olympian.
“Especially for her age, the way she handles herself, you’d think she’s 22. The media is obviously really onto her right now because she’s sort of the new face of American swimming.
“If that were me, I would be freaking out.”
Enjoying the moment
This is nothing new to the Olympians, a sometimes jaded group that looks at meets from Rome to Beijing as pure business trips more than fruits of their sport. They never smell the cherries jubilee, let alone take a bite.
Now here came a 16-year-old at last year’s world championships in Shanghai. Between laughter and jokes, she won three gold medals and became USA Swimming’s “it” girl.
Beisel remembers one time in Shanghai right before the 200 backstroke final that Franklin won.
“I was so nervous and she was just sitting there, laughing and having a great time,” Beisel said. “It really just forced me to be like, ‘This is why I do this. I have fun doing this. This isn’t like a chore. I shouldn’t be nervous.’ She does that for a lot of people.”
At this training camp, it’s easy. It’s French aperitif before English bangers and mash. Vichy, a town of about 26,000, is 250 miles south of Paris in the heart of the heavily forested Massif Central.
In the 19th century, Napoleon III used to soak in Vichy’s volcanic mineral waters, and tourists practice decadent indulgence here to this day.
The U.S. swim team has occasionally ventured out into the lovely city where outdoor cafes sporting white tablecloths line narrow roads in the city center and locals flock to bocce ball tournaments along the Allier River.
The team’s training complex, Stade Aquatique, is a sparkling 2-year-old extravaganza with a 50-meter pool outside and, under a glass dome that sparkles for miles, a 25-meter indoor pool adjacent to a water park.
U.S. swimmers train in shifts. Sometimes they swim at 7:30 a.m. Other times they can sleep in and swim later.
Ready for the big time
For Franklin, this is like moving from a softball field in City Park to Yankee Stadium. In the Denver area, she and her coach with the Colorado Stars, Todd Schmitz, drive up to 30 minutes for whichever of the half-dozen pools can make time from 5-7 a.m. before a seniors aqua aerobics class begins.
“We get to train in a 50-meter pool that doesn’t have a million different marks on the bottom,” Schmitz said. “Most American pools are designed 50 meters, but they’re also yards across, so you have lines all the way across while this pool is only 50 meters and you know where the wall is. You take things that a normal person would never think of.”
The local support also is superb. In France, swimming has become big. The French love glamour and gossip. When Laura Manaudou won the 400 freestyle at the Athens Olympics in 2004, France had its swimming pinup girl.
Now the French have backstroker Camille Lacourt, the 2010 European swimmer of the year who’s dating Valerie Begue, the 2008 Miss France.
This is a good, colorful French team, and 2,000 French fans took advantage of a sunny, 70-degree day and USA Swimming’s only public workout Saturday to fill the Stade Aquatique. An excitable public-address announcer pointed out every U.S. swimmer, including “MEE-see Fraunk-LEEN.”
“We’ve absolutely loved being here,” Franklin told the French media during a news conference. “We’ve had such a blast. We love your country. We’ve had so much fun.”
Leaving Omaha in her wake
Franklin and Schmitz have taken care of the business end of things. With no distractions of school, with some of the best facilities in the world, they have done nothing but iron out any wrinkles they found during the U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha.
They worked on the starts that had her coming from behind in three of her four events. Recently in the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, Federica Pelligrini, a rival in the 200 freestyle, said she was surprised Franklin’s times weren’t better in Omaha.
“Good,” Schmitz said. “We want people to think that. That’s fine. Then they’ll go, ‘Oh, last year was a fluke.’ Well, you know what? I’m very confident we’ll be faster than we were at trials in every event.”
If you look at Franklin’s smile, which would reach her ears if she smiled any harder, her road to London is paved with promise, not pressure.
“No matter what happens, this is still my first Olympics,” she said. “I have the expectation to go in there and leave 110 percent in that pool. If I can do that for every single race, I’ll be proud of myself.”
Missy Franklin’s 2012 Olympic Swim Schedule
July 28 Women’s 4×100 Freestyle Relay
July 29 Women’s 100m Backstroke
July 30 Women’s 200m Freestyle
August 1 Women’s 100m Freestyle
August 1 Women’s 4×200 Freestyle Relay
August 2 Women’s 200m Backstroke
August 3 Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay
About Dani’s Foundation
Dani’s Foundation is committed to finding the cause and cure for pediatric sarcomas; those rare forms of cancer that continue to affect and take the lives of children and young adults.
Organized as a nonprofit organization in 1999 after the passing of Daniele (Dani) Stell, who lost her battle to Ewing’s Sarcoma; Dani’s Foundation is committed to honoring those patients and families who have or who currently are undergoing a pediatric sarcoma diagnosis and treatment and to work toward finding the cause and the cure for these dreadful forms of pediatric cancer.
Dani Stell was an active, bright and social young woman who loved fashion, dancing, school and friends. She aspired to become a fashion designer after graduating from college.
Dani was 18 years old when she found a lump on her side. After six months of medical visits, she was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that typically affects children and young adults.
By the time of Dani’s diagnosis, the cancer had spread to her lungs. Although she showed no symptoms other than the lump on her side, Dani was in critical condition. She was hospitalized and began an aggressive schedule of treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries and a bone marrow transplant.
Dani was cancer-free for four months when doctors discovered the disease had returned, this time in her brain. Despite more chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Dani remained positive and was determined to beat her disease.
Dani did not fulfill her dream to become a fashion designer but she lived her life with a flair for fashion. In April 1999, Dani lost her battle with cancer. She was 19 years old. Over the course of her 16 months of treatment, Dani became a symbol of strength to her family and friends.
Today, Dani’s Foundation is committed to finding the cause and the cure for all forms of pediatric sarcomas. The Foundation is committed to establishing initiatives that will assist in funding the science that will find better treatment protocols for ALL pediatric cancer patients; funding research that is working to find the cause and the cure for pediatric sarcomas; funding educational outreach that is designed to seek earlier diagnosis and ultimate survival; and lending information, resources and financial support to those pediatric sarcoma patients and their families who are struggling due to their cancer diagnosis and treatment.
For more information on Dani’s Foundation, visit the Foundation website at www.danisfoundation.org or contact Martha Simmons, Executive Director (303/601-1881 or Martha@danisfoundation.org).