Gift of Giving: Making waves to fight cancer

Getting involved in fundraising for pediatric cancer research at age 9 has already instilled a lifelong desire to give back.

By Chris Merhige, Director, Product Supply – Cleaning Division and Elizabeth Tung, Commerce Lead – Brand Engagement

This post is part of a series published during the 2021 holiday season highlighting Clorox employees’ personal commitments giving back to their communities.

Like everyone, it seems, we’ve had friends and family battle cancer, and we’ve felt and seen the impact it can have on families. That’s motivated us to find ways to help.

We became supporters of Swim Across America after befriending their longtime co-event director in San Francisco. Through various swim events across the country, the nonprofit raises funds for cancer research and treatment. The San Francisco Swim Across America raises funds for University of California-San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland.

The San Francisco event takes place in the San Francisco Bay and begins with a boat ride at dawn from San Francisco to underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, we jump into the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean and swim 3 miles back to shore — if we’re lucky, with dolphins or a whale!  The setting is amazing but far eclipsed by the stories that participants and cancer survivors tell about why they’re swimming, and for whom. 

Our commitment to Swim Across America has become a true family affair, with our oldest daughter joining us in fundraising for the organization in 2017 when she was just 9 years old. Like many nonprofits, Swim Across America has seen reduced fundraising during COVID, with most events canceled in 2020 and modified events taking place in 2021. That did not stop us from increasing our fundraising efforts though, and the company’s matching program was a key enabler, both for us and our generous colleagues that donated to our efforts. Our daughter alone has raised over $28,000 for Swim Across America, including over $16,000 this year. 

The experience has been a meaningful one for us as a family, and one we expect will instill in our daughter a lifelong desire to give back to others.