Holland man to swim 20 miles to raise funds for breast cancer patients

Candice Williams
The Detroit News
Nick Hobson

Nick Hobson remembers coming home from school as a teen and finding his mother crying on the sofa as she battled breast cancer. Now as an adult with his own family, Hobson said he realizes the stress that his parents were under at the time.

“Both my parents were under quite a lot of pressure at that point and we didn’t really know how it was going to pan out,” he said. “Luckily, my mum had the treatment, had a mastectomy and she’s been cancer-free ever since, really. I’m very lucky on that point, but those images and experiences and dinner table conversations have stayed with me ever since. It made an impression.”

Hobson, 37, of Holland has planned a 20-mile swim on Tuesday from Holland State Park to Grand Haven State Park in Lake Michigan to raise money for the Pink Fund, which provides financial support for breast cancer patients undergoing treatment. The Rochester Hills-based organization covers up to 90 days of non-medical expenses, such as rent payments, utilities and transportation.

“When I was thinking about doing this swim and raising money for a good cause, supporting people suffering from breast cancer, it’s pretty close to home, and it’s something I really wanted to do, hence the connection to the Pink Fund,” Hobson said.

“... While I think that finding a cure for breast cancer is hugely important, there’s a lot of stress and suffering that happens while people are getting the treatment. So I think the Pink Fund is a really great organization to have a very tangible and positive impact on the short term on people’s lives.”

Nick Hobson is seen swimming ahead of his Lake Michigan swim.

Hobson, an experienced open water swimmer, wanted to challenge himself to go beyond a previous 7.5-mile swim he completed from Holland to Saugatuck. If he was going to attempt something so challenging, the married father of two said he wanted to raise money while doing it. Originally from Scotland, Hobson noted health care costs in the United States can be astronomical for families, he said.

If all goes as planned on Tuesday, Hobson will swim 20 miles between Holland State Park and Grand Haven State Park in Lake Michigan. He’ll be accompanied by a crew in a safety boat.

It is fundraisers like Hobson’s that really gives the Pink Fund a boost, said founder Molly MacDonald, a breast cancer survivor who started the organization in 2006. Since 2007, it has paid nearly $3 million in bills for women and men undergoing breast cancer treatment. On average, an individual receives about $3,000 in assistance.

The recipients have been appreciative, MacDonald said.

“People tell us they can breathe now,” she said. “They’re able to sleep at night. They’re able to go to the grocery store. One man said that because we helped his wife, some of the things insurance couldn’t cover like bandages for her wounds he was able to buy.”

The swim on Tuesday will be the longest distance Hobson has attempted to travel. He expects it will take about 10 hours to complete. The only breaks he will take will be for something to drink and eat, which he'll do while treading water.

Hobson has trained by swimming 15 miles a week. He’ll also have a few friends who will join him at different parts of the trip for motivation. His family also will be providing him support, including his mother, who he said thinks the Pink Fund is a worthwhile cause.

“She’s pretty eager to see how the swim goes,” he said. “She’s always supported me in everything I’ve done and this is no different.”

Anyone interested in donating can visit here or track Hobson here


Twitter: @CWilliams_DN