Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Annaliese Carr: How I Conquered Lake Ontario to Help Kids Battling Cancer by Annaliese Carr as told to Deborah Ellis

Main character: Annaleise Carr, a 14-year-old swimmer
Location: Lake Ontario, Canada
Time period:  August 2012
Genre:  Juvenile Nonfiction, Inspirational Story

On August 18, 2012, Annaleise Carr became the youngest person to swim across Lake Ontario.  Even better than her achievement is the story of why she undertook the challenge.

Annaliese is an avid swimmer who belonged to both a pool swimming club and an open-water swimming club.  Every year, her open-water swimming club put together a 10K swim on Lake Erie as a fundraiser.  One year, a teammate suggested they raise money for Camp Trillium, a camp for kids who have been diagnosed with cancer.  When they visited the camp, Annaliese was so impressed with it that she wanted to volunteer.  Unfortunately, she was told that the minimum age for volunteering there was 18.  Not wanting to wait years before she could help out, she came up with the idea of swimming across Lake Ontario, the smallest of the Great Lakes, to raise money for the camp. Her family was supportive of the idea, and she got to work.

Annaliese had to find a trainer, and discovered that there was a governing body who controlled these long distance lake swims.  There were many rules to follow and a hefty registration fee, but Annaliese wanted to do this right.  Of course since the reason for the swim was to raise money for Camp Trillium, she had to overcome her natural shyness and start asking companies to help sponsor her.  Eventually, she began to get noticed by the media who publicized her cause.  She hoped to raise $30,000 for the camp.  By the time she was through, she had raised $90,000.

There were a number of things I liked about this book.  Even though written with a professional co-writer, Annaliese's voice shines through.  She is a smart, good-hearted teen with a great family.  She acknowledges that she did not go through this alone--even when she was alone in the water she was surrounded by family, friends, and well-wishers. She meets some of the families whose kids went to Camp Trillium and realizes that they, too, were not alone--they had the support of their families and health care workers.  These kids never gave up, and that gives her the spur to not give up.  She admits that she was scared, she was tired, and at points had doubts, but she could not let everyone down.

This is not a long book.  It tells her story very simply without a lot of embellishment.  And yet I became unexpectedly emotional when she made it across and was greeted by her sister.

I read this book as an e-ARC from NetGalley.

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