PASA helps swimmers affected by hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

Courtesy of Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics
Members of Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics take part in a swimathon in Los Altos Hills to benefit a swim team in Puerto Rico.

Swimmers from Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics (PASA) have raised more than $3,500 for a swim team in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria.

Several PASA members who helped raise money are Los Altos residents, including Sylvie Patterson. The 11-year-old played a prominent role in the fundraiser for Nadadores Ponce Leones Swim Team in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

“(My teammates and I) are so lucky where we are in beautiful California,” Sylvie said in an email to the Town Crier. “We wanted to try to raise money for the people whose swim clubs might have been damaged in the storms.”

Hurricane Maria reached Puerto Rico Sept. 20, destroying buildings and leaving millions without safe drinking water. It also left Nadadores Ponce Leones with contaminated pool water.

When Sylvie found out, she wanted to help the club but was unable to reach any of its members. With the assistance of PASA head coach Dana Kirk, the team connected with Jesse Vassallo, a former Olympic swimmer from Puerto Rico, who put them in touch with the swim team.

Sylvie set up a website for the fundraiser, with the goal of raising $1,000 to buy chemicals to treat the contaminated pool water. It took just three days to reach the goal.

PASA later held a swimathon to raise more money. Kirk invited members from every age group and encouraged parents to take part as well. Twenty-two swimmers participated in the event, held Oct. 15 at Fremont Hills Country Club in Los Altos Hills.

Kirk and fellow coach Lesley Reid also took part in the swimathon, and their families donated to the fundraiser.

The money was quickly wired to Puerto Rico, according to Sylvie’s mother, Elizabeth Hutter, so it could be put to use right away.

Linda Suarez Ramos, president of Nadadores Ponce Leones, is thankful for the team’s efforts.

“You … had no reason to help us at all, (and) decided to work together to raise money (for) us,” she said. “(I cried) when I saw the beautiful photos (from the event). (It) was very touching.”

Hutter hoped that the fundraiser would “(increase) interaction between the two swimming communities in the name of general swimming team-ship.”

“We were really motivated and inspired by how quickly people came together,” she said.

Kirk added that she hopes that helping the Puerto Rican team swim again will improve their emotional well-being.

“We want to help these kids have an outlet or a place they can go to just be young,” she said.

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