JUNE 9, 2011

The Charlotte Grand Prix is the sixth of seven stops along the Speedo Grand Prix Series that spans the long course season of the competition year.  Not only does the Charlotte Grand Prix attract some of the best swimmers through tough competition, fancy “Athlete Zone” tents and prize money, but it also allows swimmers to interact with their fans.  Among other activities, National Team athletes are invited to set up autograph booths in the Splash Zone tent while simultaneously promoting charities that speak to them.  Throughout the years I have had the opportunity to support various charities, but this year I chose a charity that is very close to my heart.From left to right is Pooh’s sister-in-law, Mary Bridget Maddan, her two children, and me at the DAM-Cancer booth at the UltraSwim meet.

The David Andrew “Pooh” Maddan Foundation was set up in honor of my friend Dave.  Although I’ve known Dave since I was about 16 years old, I don’t think I ever called him by his real name.  Everyone knew him as “Pooh.”  Much like the fictional bear, Pooh had a jovial, easy-going nature.  He had a distinctive voice, a big smile and seemed to be best friends with everyone around him.  Pooh grew up in Northern California and swam on the Piranha Swim Team in Rohnert Park, California which is where I first met him.  Years later he attended the University of California at Santa Barbara where he swam four years and served as captain of the swim team the last two.  My husband also swam with Pooh at UCSB during those years and they became close friends.  After college they coached together during the Summer League swimming season.  

When Pooh was 26 years old he went to the doctor because of a pain in one of his legs.  After several tests, they discovered that he had osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.  Pooh fought for a few years, but at the age of 28, Pooh lost his fight to cancer due to complications of treatment. 

Before his passing, Pooh set up DAM-Cancer (originally titled “Poohstrong”) to help out young adults who are afflicted with cancer.  Since it’s inception the foundation has helped over fifty young adults through financial grants.  The foundation directly helps young adults with cancer through aiding with transportation costs, housing, food, insurance premiums, dental expenses as well as medications and supplies not covered by insurance. 

I highly encourage you all to check out the website to learn more about the foundation.