Displaying items by tag: Saratoga Rotary Club

While People are More Isolated Than Ever, Local Club Steps Up with Financial Gift to Aid in Bringing Emotional Support to Those Living with Medical Needs & Caregivers

SARATOGA SPRINGS – COVID-19 presents unique challenges for those living with medical diagnoses, as well as their caregivers including increased fear and isolation.

That’s why Saratoga-based nonprofit, Beyond My Battle, launched virtual support groups for their community at the start of the pandemic. The organizations offer a live online support group format that not only allows for proper social distancing, but also provides a service that is truly accessible to a community that needs accessibility. 

“For many living with, or caring for someone with an illness/disability, limited mobility and time are obstacles for attending in-person support services – with or without the coronavirus,” says BMB Executive Director, Martel Catalano. 

In seeking to continue providing this free service to both individuals living with illnesses/disabilities, and caregivers, the Saratoga Springs Rotary Club has provided funding to support on-going groups, which attendees are calling “a life-line.” 

Saratoga Rotary President, Susan Rhoades, says, “we continue to support local nonprofit organizations in need and are happy to be able to give assistance to Beyond My Battle.”

BMB’s support groups meet weekly on Zoom and are completely free to attendees, while maintaining a facilitated environment to engage and direct conversation in a compassionate way. To learn more about the groups or to sign up for one, visit www.beyondmybattle.org/support-groups. The care partner virtual support group meets every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and the illness/disability virtual support group meets every Thursday at 8 p.m.

Published in News

Photos provided.

LAKE GEORGE — Louise Rourke, a polio survivor, and Bridget Simpson just recently swam the length of Lake George relay-style on Monday, July 30. They began their journey at 6:30 a.m. and completed their 21-hour swim at 3 a.m.

“It was really a very amazing and fulfilling experience for me; it was pretty emotional at the start to see so many people there and it was such a quiet, calm, beautiful morning. The weather really cooperated for us and it was wonderful having my husband, he drove the boat, but also both my son and daughter-in-law in the boat helping,” Rourke expressed.

Her son and daughter-in-law also participated as trackers, both paddling different sections of the lake and helping to get the kayakers out with their boats for their shifts. Rourke’s sister and brother-in-law also helped driving a tender boat at the southern end of the lake. The tender boats brought the kayakers out to where the women were swimming. At the northern end of the lake, her husband’s cousin and his wife were in the tender boat.

“There were a lot of logistics involved with the planning and to just see it all come together and go smoothly and go really faster than I anticipated,” she said.

Rourke’s most difficult part was the night time section of the swim.

“You lose perspective in terms of where everything is. You don’t have that depth perception. My husband had put LED lights on the bow of our boat so that we could clearly see where the boat was,” she explained.

While Rourke started the swim, doing the first six miles from the north village, Bridget did the next six miles and they alternated the entire swim.

“I would say that was the roughest part of the lake because there’s more boat traffic by that time of day. Even though it was a Monday, it was a beautiful weather day so there were boats out and about,” she explained.

Once they began their swim, “I was overwhelmed as more and more people kept showing up. That was just wonderful,” Rourke commented.

As the relay got to the end, it was Simpson’s turn to swim the last six miles, but Rourke decided to jump back in a quarter mile before the end, so they could finish together.

“At 3 a.m. there were people there at the finish. A lot of them Rotarians. To see their white lights waving and hear the cheering and it was really something. One of the Rotarians told me they had stayed overnight in Ticonderoga so that they could be sure to be there to greet us,” she reminisced.

“My whole reason for doing this swim was to raise awareness about the lingering existence of Polio in the world and the need for immunizations in general. I think a lot of young people today don’t understand what Polio is and they’ve never experienced it so they don’t know what a devastating disease it is; they don’t understand that it could come roaring back,” Rourke said, stressing the purpose of their swim.

Donations are still being raised for Rourke’s cause through the Saratoga Rotary Club. People can donate online at www.portal.clubrunner. ca/50091/Event/swim-to-endpolio. Every dollar donated will equal three to Polio eradication.


“At the finish it was also very emotional but really almost at that point, it was amazing to imagine that we were there, and we had done it and that it was over with. It was really pretty amazing experience,” Rourke concluded.

Published in Sports

Photos provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Louise Rourke, a retired teacher from Porter Corners, contracted polio at just six months old. She was in leg braces for the majority of her life and had several corrective surgeries. Spending her summers on Rockhurst, a small peninsula on the east side of Lake George, Rourke never felt more graceful than when she was swimming in the lake. 


“I always felt more graceful and free in the water than I can on land because I walk with a limp,” Rourke explained.

Since 2007, Rourke has been back in a leg brace.

Rourke has carried the idea of swimming the whole lake for the majority of her life, “when I was four, there was a woman named Diane Struble, who was a single mom, and she swam the length of Lake George back in 1958. I remember my parents telling me about that and all the publicity around it. I just remembered thinking, ‘wouldn’t it be awesome if I could do that?’”

Two things occurred to make Rourke revisit that thought decades later: Her two sons, Devin and Sean, participated in volunteer work in Nepal. When she and her husband went to visit them, it was the first time she had ever been in a developing country, seeing firsthand people with shriveled limbs, like herself, and they were crawling instead of walking with a limp. They had no benefit of bracing or corrective surgeries.

“Of all of the wonderful things that are available to me as a citizen of the United States. The trip was a significant event that planted the seed of, ‘I wish I could do something for the people of Nepal in general,’” Rourke explained.

Rourke will be doing a relay swim with Brigette Simpson for the Saratoga Rotary Club to fundraise and raise awareness for polio and public health immunization.

“Abilities rather than disabilities,” said Donald McPherson, a Saratoga Rotary Club member, in a press release about the event.

Simpson swam the length of Lake George last year on her own. Rourke met her in the fall and swam with her with a triathlon club.

“She was very encouraging to me. She said, ‘you could do the lake if that’s what you want to do.’ So, I considered it. She did it for her 50th birthday, and I just turned 64 in May, so, I wasn’t so confident about doing the whole lake. She suggested a relay and that appealed to me. I’ve been practicing all winter long. I’ve always been a swimmer, all my life, but this past fall, after meeting her, I ramped up my swimming at the Y in Saratoga and I started training. We’ll each end up doing 17 miles. Our plan is to swim the first mile together and the last mile together, and then the 30 miles in between we’ll alternate fivemile sections,” Rourke said, explaining how the relay swim will work.

Both women will be accompanied by at least one follow boat and two paddle boats per swimmer.

“When I decided that I wanted to do a relay and Brigette agreed to help her, she wanted to do it with a purpose in mind and then the Saratoga Rotary Club decided to back them,” Rourke said.

“We’re hoping by the week of July 30 we would be able to do the relay, so either July 30, 31 or August 1, 2, or 3,” Rourke said.

Contributions can be made at various sponsorship levels from $100 to $1,000 or beyond. To donate, checks can be made out to Rotary District 7190/Polio and mailed to District 7190, PO Box 306, Clifton Park, NY 12065.

Published in Sports

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