Fairfield Police Department to SWIM Across the Sound to Support One of Their Own

July 15, 2016

BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut – When Tom Gorton was a security officer at St. Vincent’s, he helped to launch the Security Department relay team in 2011. He knew there had never been a St. Vincent’s team, and he wanted to fix that. Soon after, he joined the Fairfield Police Department. This year he was inspired to start the Fairfield Police Department team by a coworker’s wife, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in January. 

Sergeant Mike Paris’s wife Kelly found a lump in her breast, which led to meeting with a surgeon at St. Vincent’s. The surgeon recommended a mammogram, which confirmed the need for a biopsy. In the last few months, Kelly has undergone a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, and reconstructive surgery. The possibility of more surgery down the road exists, as well. 

“Cancer has touched our department – both officers and their families – over the years and we’ve supported the SWIM by offering our Marine Unit for the day,” explained Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara. “This year, one of our newest members brought fresh energy to the department, so now we have a team. We hired Tom because we believe he will be a terrific officer. We got a bonus with his enthusiasm and community spirit.”

The department is swimming to support Mike, Kelly, and their five-year-old daughter, Layla, of Fairfield, and all the other people fighting cancer. When word spread about the team and the Paris family’s fight, a family-owned business in Fairfield was so moved that it donated the entire $7,500 team fundraising goal. 

“This is a gift from the heart,” said the owner, who wishes to remain anonymous. “We’re happy to support the team and the department.”

To donate to the Fairfield Police Department Team, click here: https://give.stvincents.org/swim/marathon-2016/event---marathon-2016-relay-swimmers.

Tom’s Family Inspires Five Teams in Four Towns to SWIM Across the Sound
Ann Gorton, Tom’s mom, could be called the Marathon Mama – the SWIM Across the Sound marathon, that is. Ann, two of her sons, and her soon-to-be daughter-in-law have inspired five relay teams in four towns to take turns swimming 15.5 miles from Port Jefferson, NY across Long Island Sound to Captain’s Cove Seaport in Bridgeport, CT. The Gortons will join approximately 200 swimmers accompanied by a fleet of 100 boats during the 29th St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound on July 30, 2016 to raise money for cancer patients and their families. 

Get to Know the Gortons
Tom Gorton, 28, Milford resident, started the Fairfield Police Department relay team this year. He is engaged to Shannon. Team Name: Fairfield Police Department. In 2011, Tom started the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Security Department team, which continues to swim the Marathon each year.

Ann Gorton, Trumbull resident, swims on the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Emergency Department Team with her future daughter-in-law, Shannon, of Milford. Team Name: Code Blue Fish.

Ryan Gorton, 18, Trumbull resident, started two Trumbull EMS teams this year. There was so much interest in their team, which includes EMTs and emergency responders from Trumbull EMS and Echo House in Shelton, that they started a second team. Team Names: Earn Money Swimming Team A and Earn Money Swimming Team B.

“I never dreamed that we would be able to have such a positive impact and make such a difference in the lives of so many. It’s really humbling,” said Gorton, a technician in the emergency department at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. 

St. Vincent’s Emergency Department Team: Code Blue Fish
This is the third year the St. Vincent’s Medical Center’s emergency department (ED) is fielding a relay team. The team includes eight women: Ann Gorton of Trumbull; Shannon Burke of Milford; Nicole McNeiece of Shelton; Gail Wells of Milford; Heidi Sandrowski of Trumbull; and Chelsea Smith of Monroe. Lindsay Slaybaugh of Stratford will be the team medic and Stacey Maler of Seymour will be the team time keeper.

In the ED, Ann and her teammates see patients who are fighting cancer every day. “We’re doing this for our patients. It’s our way of giving back to them,” she explained.

Fiancées Shannon Burke and Tom Gorton train together, despite swimming for different teams. “Not that I’m competitive or anything, but there’s no way Tom’s team is beating us!” offered Shannon. “That’s NOT happening!”

Their team goal is $7,500 and they’re nearly there. To make a donation to Team Code Blue Fish, click here: https://give.stvincents.org/swim/marathon-2016/event---marathon-2016-relay-swimmers.

Trumbull EMS Teams A & B: Earn Money Swimming
Ryan Gorton, now 18, did the marathon last year. This year, as a volunteer for the Trumbull EMS team, he convinced his fellow first responders to join him. There was so much interest in the team, which includes EMTs and emergency responders from Trumbull EMS and Echo House in Shelton, that they started a second team.

“Ryan just loves being an EMT and he thought it would be great for the town to have a team – now they have two!” Ann explained. 

Each team has a $7,500 goal. To make a donation to the Trumbull EMS teams, click here: https://give.stvincents.org/swim/marathon-2016/event---marathon-2016-relay-swimmers.

St. Vincent’s Security Department Team: Bullsharks
Unlike Team Code Blue Fish, Team Bullsharks are old pros at the Marathon, having fielded teams each of the last six years. While Tom Gorton started the team with members from the security department, it has rotated membership from other hospital departments over the years. 

This year the team includes Chris Sanchez of Bridgeport; Nurse Jaimie Chila of Monroe; Nathaniel Gonzalez of Bridgeport; Dillon Ford of East Haven; Ricky Schede of Stratford; and Nurse Emilia Pruszko of Shelton

“Working at the Medical Center, we see a lot,” explained Chris Sanchez, team captain. “The Foundation does so much for so many and we all wanted to find a way to support their work. None of us are swimmers – we just wanted to do the fundraising.” 

The team tries to train together as much as possible, which can be a challenge with each person’s different shifts. “We’re a 24-hour organization so some of us work days, others nights or weekends, so it can be difficult to coordinate everyone,” he said.

To make a donation to the Bullsharks, click here: https://give.stvincents.org/swim/marathon-2016/event---marathon-2016-relay-swimmers.

Fundraising is a Team Effort
Ann works with both the ED and Security teams to meet each team’s $7,500 fundraising goal. “I’m on the ED team but Tom started the Security team and I want to be sure that it continues, so I’m happy to help them meet their fundraising goals,” explained Ann. Last year the two teams raised nearly $55,000 together. 

To reach their fundraising goal, the St. Vincent’s teams have sponsored events separately and together. Karaoke nights, celebrity bartending events, car washes, and basket raffles have all provided opportunities to contribute to the cause. “Every year it’s a little different. We try to switch things up to keep it fresh and fun,” Ann stated. 

To support any of the SWIM Across the Sound teams, visit https://give.stvincents.org/swim/marathon-2016/event---marathon-2016-meet-the-swimmers-.

Where Does the Money Go?
St. Vincent’s Marathon swimmers often swim in support or memory of a friend or loved one. Others choose to take on the challenge to help alleviate the suffering of someone they’ve never met. The money they raise from pledges goes to St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound, which helps cancer patients and their family deal with the plethora of non-medical challenges that cancer brings and that insurance does not cover. 
For more information on St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound Marathon, visit SwimAcrossTheSound.org.

Supporters Invited to Cheer Swimmers on During Dockside Celebration
As the swimmers make their way across the Sound, hundreds of supporters will gather from 2:00 – 6:00 pm to cheer them on as they make their final approach to Captain’s Cove Seaport in Bridgeport, CT. The maritime amusement center will be alive with music, entertainment, vendor booths, and the boardwalk shops and restaurant will be open, too. Children of all ages will enjoy the Children's Tent. For a $1 suggested minimum donation per child, they can partake in face painting, arts & crafts, balloon twisting, and their choice of ice cream and toppings. 

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