Greg Wellman

On Sept. 14, 2013, Greg Wellman Jr., 34, of Kingsport, Tenn., swam 440 pool lengths to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Greg’s grandmother, Grace Bosdell, is 87 years old and has been suffering from Alzheimer’s for the last six years. “She’s lived a vibrant life, but her final years have been defined by Alzheimer’s. Progress is being made, but a cure eludes us still,” says Wellman.

“Swim for Them” is an annual charitable event in which swimmers raise funds for personal causes by conducting swim endurance challenges. “My sister introduced me to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund when she supported the foundation in Swim for Them in 2011,” Wellman says. “I was drawn to the organization’s high-risk/high-reward research focus.”

Wellman has watched his mother, aunt and uncle all care for his grandmother, but he finds himself imagining the perspective of his grandfather, who is 94 and healthy. “As frustrated and helpless as I feel, I imagine his experience is one hundredfold, watching his beloved wife of almost 70 years fade away. I want to help save future generations from this blight.”

To prepare for the event, Wellman used Dory’s mantra from the movie “Finding Nemo”—“just keep swimming!” He swam three to four times per week until he could swim about two-thirds of his chosen event distance, a 10K. On Sept. 14, he was cheered on by his wife and three children, Grace (10), Ethan (8), and Samuel (6), and countless other supporters—and he completed his challenge in three hours and 22 minutes.

“I love the opportunity to shed light on the fantastic work being done by devoted organizations and donate to meaningful research, while elevating the issue in my community,” says Wellman.