The Carl Oake Rotary Swimathon started on a bit of a lark, in 1987. They wondered, would it be possible to take Carl’s morning routine of swimming laps at the local Y, and turn it into a fundraising event? 33 years later, and still going strong, the answer is yes. Carl and the committee, with the strong support of the Peterborough Rotary Club, C21 United Realty Inc., and Easter Seals Ontario, built a long standing success generating much needed funds.
In 1987 t Carl headed what was then known as Century 21 Carl Oake Realty, and was a Rotarian who had a strong connection to Easter Seals. Carl’s morning routine was moulded into a fundraising project where Carl would swim for one hour, non-stop. Originally, pledges would be collected for a sum of money per length of the pool. It was decided that funds would support Rotary projects, and 25% of the event’s proceeds would support Easter Seals kids. It ranged from 10 cents per length to over one dollar per length. The most impressive year, Carl swam 120 laps in an hour! In time, teams started to get involved and the proceeds increased to about $50,000 per event. In 2016, the Carl Oake Rotary Swimathon hit the $1,000,000 mark! They were extremely proud to reach that benchmark.
As Carl looked towards retirement, his daughter Vanessa Oake took on the daunting task of taking over the Swimathon. She joined the Committee in 2016 and really began to understand the importance of the event, and the loyalty that it had built over the years. It was clear to her that this event still had the potential to continue and grow. 2016 was also the year that Vanessa began the process of taking over C21 United Realty Inc. After 50 years, Carl was passing the torch, and Vanessa was more then ready for the challenge.
Since then, Vanessa has done a remarkable job of taking the Swimathon upward and onward. Adapting to the world of social media, Vanessa led the committee through a more modern approach to raise funds, promote awareness, and encourage donations. She launched a cheeky new TV promo piece embracing the fun of the day itself, but also driving home the continued need for support year after year. Carl’s namesake remains a key part of community support and recognisability. The C21 team continues to play a key role in the success of this event, from volunteering day of, getting refreshments, organizing and directing pool deck traffic, collecting donations, and organizing pledge sheets. The event continues to run successfully, with Easter Seals, Rotary and the Oake family ensuring a flawless execution year after year.
Easter Seals is very proud to have partnered with Carl Oake, and is thrilled to carry on our traditions with Vanessa Oake. So many Easter Seals kids have benefitted from the fundraising accomplishments of the Swimathon, and we look forward to celebrating many more.
Thank you Vanessa, and your team at C21 United Realty Inc., for your commitment and passion in helping kids BE KIDS.