Local swimmers, walkers and bike-riders in Curacao have raised the huge amount of one million Dutch Antillean Guilders – about 600,000 USD- for the fight against cancer during five editions of the “Ride, Walk, and Swim for the Roses.”
The Ride for the Roses is an international non-competitive event that was originally initiated by the Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and carried out in many places all over the world. The purpose is to raise funds and awareness for the fight against cancer. In January 2005 the Ride for the Roses was introduced in Curacao. The event grew bigger every year and soon included a swim and a walk on the same day. The money collected is donated to the Princess Wilhelmina Fund and is used to promote the belief that cancer is curable.
The Swim for the Roses is a long-distance open water swim from Jan Thiel to the Curacao Sea Aquarium, approximately 2.7 kilometers. The swim is also non-competitive, which means that swimmers of all ages can participate and have the chance to catch up with the rest of the group. Goggles, masks and fins are allowed. Kayaks and rescue-boats were on-scene to accompany the swimmers from the moment the start signal was given until the last swimmer arrived. A participant didn’t need to be a superstar to join. The swim was held along the shoreline in shallow waters to make it as safe as possible, easily enabling swimmers to reach the shore.
In an effort to involve the youth in the swim as well young swimmers were allowed to join the group of open-water swimmers at the Lions Dive Resort, quite near the finish, where swimmers were handed ‘The Rose” for their effort and as a symbol for the fact that cancer is curable. During the events of the Ride, the Swim, and the Walk for the Roses, survival was the topic that was most focused on, and also the thought that surviving this terrible disease is possible! The way the community has been sustaining these events en mass with 4,000 participants and a multiple of supporters this year is an extremely positive sign.
Els Kroon is a Dutch former teacher who now lives and works as an award-winning free-lance photojournalist on Curacao.