Curing Leukemia...One Stroke at a Time!

The crew is all volunteer and is a mix of veterans and newbies.  The swim is a team effort and the crews are relied upon for nutrition, safety, data gathering, video and photography, communications, and are the eyes and ears of the swimmers.

Success depends on all involved and Ray & Elaine are truly thankful for their endless support!

Dr. Joe DeCesare - is a three time Board Certified Podiatrist in Warwick and Providence for the past 23 years. He swam competitively since the age of 10 at the Cranston and Kent County YMCA's, and continued as the co-captain of the Moses Brown School swim team. He is an avid sailer and powerboater and has spent extensive time sailing Narragansett Bay and the northeast. Dr. Joe was a co-captain on the 2010 Jamestown swim team bringing his medical and nautical skills to the team. He also is an avid open water swimmer. This year he will be captain for Elaine Howley on his boat Barca.

As many of those on the crew, Joe has also been touched by Leukemia, having lost a brother at an early age, before they ever got to know each other. His brother Timmy is part of his motivation for this swim.

Quote: " If more people showed the courage and incredible endurance that both Elaine and Ray show, the world would be a better place and blood cancers would be eliminated."

Note: Dr. Joe is on the right (below)and Lou Sardelli is on the left

Lou Sardelli - Life time devotee of the sport of open water swimming. Coordinator of the weekly Potters Cove swims. Participate in numerous organized open water swimming events over the past 2 decades. Spotter for Ray Gandy's 2010 swim around Jamestown. Participant in the Fall and Spring Serdakowski Challenge and 2010 recipient of the Gandy Award!! Oh yea and the guy who can best deal with DR. Joe!!!! Oh yea and last swimmer out of the water and first swimmer in!!

Quote: "Like I say every week at Potters Cove. Somebody has to finish last!!"

Caroline DeCesare (aka "Pumkin") is 14 years old and swims competitively for the KCYMCA Sea Otters. She has set swimming records in 200 yard free relay, 200 yard butterfly, and 1 mile free relay. She is a honors student having received the Presidential Award from Cole middle school and will attend East Greenwich High School as a freshman in the fall. Her other interests include sailing, skiing and feild hockey. She participated in the start of Ray's 2010 Jamestown swim. She organized a lapathon fund raiser for LLS as part of this event with her friends and fellow swimmers. Quote: " This 50 mile swim is a really cool thing to do , the distance is amazing ! People don't even run this far ". She will be a crew member on her Dad's boat.

Tom Roodvoets - I am a high school history teacher currently living in Cairo, Egypt. I met Elaine a decade ago when we both served in the Peace Corps in Ukraine. We became friends then and have remained so ever since. I have been on boats in Lake Michigan all my life and hope that I still have my sea legs. I have never crewed for a long-distance swim before, but am thrilled and honored to be able to contribute to such a challenging and noble endeavor.

Rich Hittinger - Rich is an avid fisherman and lifelong boater. He was the captain of Ray's boat for the 2010 "twice around Jamestown" swim. Rich is an outdoor swimmer who swims regularly with the Potters Cove group and besides doing the Save the Bay swim for the past 3 years and the Mullen Challenge for the past 2 years, Rich also completed a 5 mile Open Ocean swim in St. Croix on 10-10-10. He is Vice President of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association, Chair elect of the Central RI Chamber of Commerce, a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council and active in many professional organizations. For his real job Rich is the President and owner of Alliance Environmental Group of Warwick, RI. Alliance is an environmental engineering and consulting company serving clients from New England to the US Virgin Islands. Rich's nephew Brendan was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 5. He went through extensive treatment and with a major uphill battle Brendan outlived most in his treatment group. With the help of that expert treatment Brendan is now 20 years old and shows no signs of Leukemia.

"Thank you Ray and Elaine for making this great event happen"

Russ Albert – is the Director, Applications Strategy & Development for UTC Fire & Security, a division of United Technologies Corporation. Russ has known and worked with Ray for 15 years. He has also been a member of Ray’s support team in earlier open water swims including Lake George and the English Channel. Russ’ principle responsibility during the course of this swim will be Ray’s nutrition and to monitor his well-being.

Jessica Gandy - is Ray and Donna Gandy’s 20-year-old daughter. She is a rising senior at Brown University concentrating in Neuroscience and intends on applying to medical school next year. She also plays on the Brown Volleyball team and participates in several beach volleyball leagues during the summer. Her inspiration to pursue a career in the medical field originated from witnessing her mother’s battle with Leukemia. Since then she has worked in several cancer research laboratories helping scientists conduct experiments to gain understanding about leukemia and lymphoma. Last summer she received her cardiac EMT license and will be paying careful attention to Ray’s stroke count and health during the swim. Jessica is a veteran crewmember, as she has crewed both the English Channel and Jamestown swims.

Al Hollenbeck

- I am currently working as Engineering Manager at Teleflex Medical in Mansfield MA.
- My family and I have lived in Coventry, RI as neighbors and close friends of Ray, Donna and Jess for over 17 years. - I grew up on Conesus Lake in Upstate NY, and every summer I would always challenge my siblings and buddies to swim the 1 mile across the lake. This graduated to swimming back and forth and so on. After swimming in high school, I stopped swimming competitively except for a few intramural meets and water polo at college. Once moving to RI in 1993, I joined the Kent County Y immediately and started swimming at the Y Pool. Someone mentioned the Save The Bay swim, and in 1994, did my first jaunt across for Save The Bay and have been doing it ever since, along with other local open water swims. During this period I met Ray (and many other RI swimmers) and we started training together. Even though he hadn’t swum since college, Ray was immediately blowing me out of the water. - Over the years Ray has been a great inspiration to help me step up my swimming regimen. When Ray first mentioned he wanted to swim the English Channel, I was thinking it to be a pipe dream. But now I realize when Ray sets his mind on something, don’t get in his way! (Right Donna?) I crewed for the last third of Ray’s double loop around Jamestown last year and got to experience the Ray Machine in action. Just incredible!!! - Although Ray indicates I was the inspiration for his start in outdoor swimming, I am in awe of what Ray has accomplished with his swimming talent over the past several years. I am even more impressed with how he has taken this herculean talent and used it to touch so many lives and to help those suffering from leukemia. Not only are you a world class swimmer, Ray, you are a world class individual and a great friend. I am honored to be part of your crew for the 50/50 Swim Challenge.

Scott Wragg - is a certified public accountant with 25 years experience and the managing partner of the Rhode Island office of CBIZ Tofias. He is a long-time friend of Ray, Donna, & Jessica Gandy. It was Donna's battle with leukemia as well as his mother-in law's recent passing from leukemia that drew him to this worthy cause. He loves Narragansett Bay and is a frequent boater but this is his first experience as part of the crew for an open water swim.

Ben Noury - is a 20-year-old rising junior at Brown University double concentrating in Economics and Human Biology. Ben is a corner back on the Brown football team and is active in several clubs raising funds for cancer research including Bench Press for Cancer and the Be the Match Bone Marrow Drive. Originally from North Conway, NH he now lives in Springhill, FL where he enjoys fishing, swimming, and long walks on the beach. Although he is not a competitive swimmer, he did struggle in Caroline’s lap-a-thon and looks forward to be on the crew for Ray’s swim--watching of course. He is especially interested in Ray’s nutrition throughout the swim. Ben is a newbie crewmember, but looks forward to this awesome experience.


Quote: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”