Faced with her own struggles ... swimmer reaches out to fulfill the wishes of others
September 12, 2012
By Linda Quinlan
Irondequoit, N.Y. — Irondequoit native Jody Wesgate and friend Tiina Leo of Irondequoit completed what they called a “Swim for Wishes” Aug. 31.
They jumped into Irondequoit Bay and swam its four-mile length in three hours and 13 minutes.
Jody’s fundraising goal was to raise $7,500, the average cost of granting one wish, for the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
To date, she’s shy of her goal, with $6,190.
Jody said the swim represented the human struggle that kids with life-threatening medical conditions deal with every day, as well as her desire to help grant their wishes.
Wesgate grew up on Irondequoit Bay, she says, and is proud to call herself one of the so-called “bay rats.”
She said her inspiration for swimming the length of Irondequoit Bay is her dad, Don Wesgate, now 73, of Irondequoit, who did the same thing when he was 30. She and her dad have also been swimming the width of the bay every summer, she said. She also has a brother who resides in Webster.
Having dealt with her own struggles, Jody also wanted to show how people can support one another, and how you can perhaps fall down, but also pick yourself up.
“I realized that all I really had was what’s inside of me,” Wesgate said. “I take things in life one day at a time now ... and that’s how I did the swim: One stroke at a time.”
Out of work for 21 months, Wesgate also had a breast cancer scare and when she was getting ready for a triathlon earlier this year, injured her knee so badly that she needed surgery Jan. 12.
“I believe we should be stepping up to the plate and giving people hope ... helping each other,” Wesgate said. “A lot of times, I felt alone, but I learned the simple things are the most important ... and you still have your spirit. I found my way around every single obstacle without assistance.”
She trained for the four-mile swim by biking, swimming two to four miles in a pool five days a week, weight-training — and swimming the width of the bay in July.
She said the exercise helped keep her positive, not to mention helping with her recovery from knee surgery.
Mary Jones, Rochester regional director of Make-A-Wish, said the local group has never had someone do something of this nature — like the swim — that Jody has.
“It’s evident she has a strong network of supportive friends and family,” Jones said. “Jody really did a lot of the work on her own ... And, I’m thankful I wasn’t swimming!”
Make-A-Wish did support Jody’s website, Jones said, and “lent a bit of moral support.” Two donors, Victor Furniture and an anonymous benefactor, have already agreed to make up any difference, she said, so Jody does achieve her $7,500 goal.
“I just wanted to give someone else a dream,” Jody Wesgate said.