In 2013, Diana Nyad became the only person to swim non-stop from Cuba to Key West — the Mount Everest of swimming. She accomplished this incredible feat at sixty-four years old. . .on her fifth try!
Diana’s love of the oceans began while growing up in Florida. That she became one of the most iconic long-distance open-water swimmers was perhaps inevitable, given her last name, which means water spirit in Greek. After retiring at thirty to become a highly-regarded journalist and public speaker, half a lifetime later Diana found herself thinking about the one swim she had tried and failed to achieve. Over the next four years, hundreds of millions of people around the world would follow her incredible attempts to cross the most dangerous stretch of open water in the world — and then cheer on her achievement when she succeeded.
Now Diana and her Cuba expedition leader and longtime best friend, Bonnie Stoll, have created an organization, EverWalk/OceansCommit, which produces inspirational walking events around the US.
In 2021, their mega event is called The Ocean Walk — which aims to inspire individuals, businesses and the mass public to take action toward restoring our once pristine oceans to their former glory. This walking-and-swimming event will take place in September 2021, and is committed to saving the earth’s oceans from plastic pollution.
EverWalk/OceansCommit is launching its first major fundraising campaign this fall — and it is with great pleasure that we are sharing their message.
I fell in love with the ocean growing up in Los Angeles. Although I grew up in the hills just above Hollywood, I began going to the beach at a very young age. When I was old enough, I would take the bus, or catch a ride with older kids. Eventually I’d drive myself there as often as I could. One summer, I think I went almost every day. When I was very young I used to talk to the ocean, as if I could entice it to summon up a good wave for body surfing. I even had a special way of patting the water in a certain rhythm, like I was playing drums, to make sure it worked.
I have travelled all over the world and my best memories are of time spent by the water. For me, the worst part of not travelling these last months has been not getting back to Los Angeles to reconnect with my friends and the ocean there.
I know Bonnie and Diana because my roommate at Harvard was Diana’s doctor on her second attempt to swim from Cuba to Key West in 2011 (33 years after the first attempt in 1978). And I’ve enjoyed spending time with them over the last few years and learning about their efforts to build community through EverWalk/OceansCommit. Whether it’s playing cards or looking at art or building a national network of people who love to connect and walk together and save the oceans, they bring a lot of joy to whatever they do.
I have to say that growing up in LA, I am bit unfazed by celebrity. But I was fascinated by Diana Nyad’s swimming since I was a teenager watching her endeavors play out on television (anyone remember ABC’s Wide World of Sports?!) So, when I first met her I was truly thrilled. I’ve always respected her for doing things no one else can do. And to see those efforts continue with her charitable work is no different.
The three works I chose for this week’s appeal are by Ken Price. They feature his granddaughter, Lorna, in the guise of a superhero. In this series, Lorna is always depicted swimming powerfully and fiercely fighting an underwater sea creature of some kind. (Just as Diana finally conquered lethal box jellyfish on her final successful swim.) When I think of Diana Nyad I am thinking of a real-life superhero. Not only for her superhuman efforts in her swimming life, but for the inspiration and incredible commitment she and Bonnie bring to all of their efforts, like OceansCommit.
LEARN MORE ABOUT OCEANSCOMMIT
Click below to find a downloadable PDF that you can read or share with others.