My Swim Against Plastic Pollution

$1,735 of $8,000 goal

Raised by 42 people in 7 months
Hi! I am Dr. Sherri Mason (but you can call me what my friends and loved ones do: Sam). I am asking for donations to fund my swim across Lake Erie (24.3 miles).  Why am I embarking upon this venture? I study freshwater plastic pollution--and this endeavor will raise awareness about this issue. Any monies raised in excess of what is needed to fund this venture will be donated to an appropriate charity. In addition to the awareness I will bring to the issue of plastic pollution within the Great Lakes, I am similar to any adventurer: I will swim Lake Erie because it is there.

Through media coverage of my swim, we will educate the public about plastic pollution, all the while proving that a 44 year old woman (and a college professor at that) can do most anything she sets her mind to.

WHY PLASTIC POLLUTION? Since its emergence on the consumer marketplace after World War II, plastic has become the most commonplace material in our society. Today, plastic is a permanent part of the consumer landscape. Single-use disposable plastic, however, is the primary culprit for plastic pollution in our fresh (and salt) water. Think about all the single-use disposable plastics that predominate in our world. From bags and bottles to coffee cups (which are lined with plastic), to-go utensils and straws, single-use disposable plastic is literally everywhere. But the problem is plastic doesn’t decompose. Every piece of plastic we’ve made (and we are currently producing over 300 million TONS of it annually) is still on this planet, somewhere. Increasingly we are finding it in our water where it picks up various known toxins carrying them into living organisms, including humans. Plastic carries and contains toxins, such as pesticides, flame retardants, and various carcinogens. Our bodies are 70% water and the reality is: if it’s in the water, it’s in us.

A bit more about me:
I am a chemistry professor and chair of the Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences at the State University of New York at Fredonia (SUNY Fredonia). I study plastic pollution within freshwater ecosystems. In fact," target="_blank">I coordinated the first ever study on plastic pollution within the open-waters of the Great Lakes . In that study, we discovered a profound problem: plastic pollution is rife in the water we use for drinking, bathing, swimming, and recreation. As a result of that study (and others it inspired), laws were passed that banned micro-beads from our shampoos and assorted toiletries.

Watch my TEDxTalk  :-)

I am a proud single-mom to a beautiful 16-year old daughter, Fran, who currently aims to study green architecture at the University of Vermont. It is no coincidence that my swim will occur when I am 44-years old and that happens to be my daughters’ favorite number. She is my ultimate purpose for living and doing all that I do. Our cat Noodles is gracious enough to allow us to live in the home we pay for, and our 10-pound Havenese, Teddy, fills our home fluffy love.

I grew up in Texas, but moved north once I finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin. I did my graduate work at the University of Montana as a NASA Earth System Science Scholar before moving to Western New York in 2001. I lived along the shores of Lake Erie for 10 years before I ever went out in them, and once I did I fell in love. The Great Lakes are amazingly beautiful and I feel so blessed to live on their shores.

Breakdown of the funds:
 $4000 for 2 powerboats to accompany #TeamSam on the swim

$700 for Open-Water Swim Association insurance, observation and sanctioning fees

$2500 for coaching and training fees

$800 for equipment {waterproof walkie talkies, swimsuits, a wetsuit, goggles, sunscreen, headlamps and glowsticks (in case it’s a night swim)}

WHY? The reasons for this endeavor are multi-faceted: (1) To raise awareness of freshwater plastic pollution; (2) To show my love for the Great Lakes (#LoveYourGreats);
(3) To accomplish an impressive personal fitness/bucket list goal;
(4) To become more like water—easy-going, flowing and yet powerful.
Raising awareness about the issue of plastic pollution is the most important of these goals and any monies raised in excess of expenses will be donated to an appropriate charity.

Reward Levels
$10 or more gets a personal shout-out on social media

$25 or more gets a “#TeamSam” t-shirt

$50 or more gets a reusable bamboo utensil set

$100 or more gets a reusable Klean Kanteen

$200 or more gets a stainless steel food carrier (for food ‘on the go’)

$500 or more and you join the “#TeamSam” Expedition Team, traveling in the powerboat alongside Sam as she swims
+ Read More
Update 1
Posted by Sherri (Sam) Mason
1 month ago
A new video about Sam's swim!
Sam's Swim!
+ Read More
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$1,735 of $8,000 goal

Raised by 42 people in 7 months
Created August 23, 2016
Kevin & Lyn Fox
1 day ago

You continue your good work - you make us all proud.

Mary Kosuth
1 day ago

You are an inspiration, Sam!

Lauren Piche
2 days ago

Happy World Water Day!!! :)

Anam Wahid
21 days ago
Mike Felsman
24 days ago

Sam, "Impressed" seems inadequate to describe your Lake Swim. This is so awesome!!! Good luck!!!

Rene Schweickhardt
29 days ago

Polluting plastics, especially in our oceans and waterways, is an enormous problem for our environment. Thank you for raising awareness about these issues. Good luck with the swim!

Mark and Michelle Twichell
1 month ago

we love lake erie, thanks sam

Lynn Neuman
1 month ago

GO Sam GO!

Kaustav Mukherjee
1 month ago

Go! Get! It! SAM!

Kyle McAvoy
1 month ago

Challenging goal, great cause! Go for it!

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