The 2020 swim for hydrocephalus was put on hold due to COVID. But the Little Falls Swim Team members still rallied to support research. Photo: 2016 Swimmers for Hydrocephalus
The Little Falls Penguins of Bethesda, Maryland have been holding annual swims to raise funds for Team Hydro’s research grants for eight years now. Inspired by the story of their fallen teammate, Kate Finlayson, they find that using their swimming skills to contribute positively to the world and serve those in need is a wonderful way to live. This year, COVID-19 upended their season and they have had to adjust — as have we all. But it takes more than a global pandemic to stop a penguin. Especially a Little Falls Penguin! These bold swimmers have kept up their annual commitment to pushing hydrocephalus research forward.
Assistant Coach and current swimmer James Marder reached out to Team Hydro to see how they could keep the spirit of giving back alive. “When I first took part in our Penguin Plunge at eight years old, I didn’t truly understand its nature, I saw it as a competition to swim the most laps,” said James. “As years past, I came to see the true reason we participate in this tradition, and I decided that I wanted to do all I could to still raise money in the year without the event.”
In these trying times it is wonderful to have examples like the swimmers at Little Falls who look beyond themselves to lift up those around them. While covid stopped a lot, it didn’t stop hydrocephalus. And it hasn’t stopped Team Hydro or the Penguins in our quest to fund a cure!
You can support the efforts of the Little Falls Penguins and help them reach there goal HERE. 100% of funds received go directly to research!
My beautiful sister Kate died when she was just 26. She taught me a lot about how to live life. A few years before she passed, she was preparing for YET ANOTHER brain surgery to treat her hydrocephalus, which meant among other things, lost hair.With my brother Samuel and a few friends (Andrew Rogers, Josh Baylor) we surprised her by driving home from college and letting her shave our heads to show our love and support.
Today there are 1 million Americans afflicted by hydrocephalus,making it a surprisingly common but still little-known condition. Sadly brain surgery remains the only treatment. There is no cure. Left untreated it can be fatal. Many with hydrocephalus endure numerous brain surgeries over the course of their lives. In fact, on average someone endures a brain surgery to treat their hydrocephalus once every 15 minutes. My sister Kate endured over 150 such surgeries.In memory of Kate and in solidarity with all the hydrocephalus heroes who shave their heads for brain surgery, today I accepted The (bad) Haircuts for Hydrocephalus Challenge…and let my little barbershop quartet shave my head (watch the timelapse video below).
Team Hydro is the organization that we founded to raise funds and awareness for hydrocephalus research. We are 100% volunteer run and every penny we receive goes directly to research. You can read more about our research grants here. It is truly remarkable stuff.
Team Hydro’s philosophy in funding research grants is simple:
We support research with the potential to move science towards a cure for Hydrocephalus, rather than just small variations on the clinical status quo. This includes projects that seek to uncover the basic biology underlying this disease, to determine and halt causative factors, and to generate innovative new approaches to therapy.
We support promising researchers with potential for long-term impact on the field. The lifeblood of academic research in the U.S. is, generally speaking, large federal grants issued via the NIH, the DoD, and other public research agencies. We have no intention to replace these agencies! However, it is currently impossible for new researchers (especially those interested in under-funded conditions like Hydrocephalus) to qualify for lab-sustaining grants from these departments without preliminary data. By the same token, commercial R&D typically enters the foray only after preliminary data developed via private and public investment. At Team Hydro, we seek to provide hydrocephalus researchers with seed funding that will enable them to assemble the critical mass of data necessary to bridge the gap towards the major public grants (and/or commercial development). In doing so, we hope to help their labs to become self-sustaining entities for research, discovery, and the training of new talent that will continue in the field for many years to come.
To this end Team Hydro has raised over $800,000 to date and supported a range of research grants in the U.S., Australia, and Canada. Importantly, all our grantees are selected as a part of rigorous peer review process in conjunction with expert panels through partnership with the Hydrocephalus Association. Finally, as we proudly state elsewhere, all Team Hydro fundraising dollars are applied directly towards grant funding — not overhead costs.
I invite you to be a part of Team Hydro. Please take part in this challenge. It is the perfect way to make the world a better place from the safety of your home during this uncertain time.