Buster Posey

Channeling Buster and Swimming from Alcatraz

By: Sports Girl Liz

I must admit, I’m a little bit of a wimp. When I saw the Buster Posey season ending collision that rocked the Bay Area, my stomach turned in knots. How could he be so brave? I would have been crying like a baby, clinging to home plate, refusing to move and forcing the game to stop with the Giants winning due to unnecessary tackling of a catcher.

This is of course extremely unrealistic. But it’s people like Buster who inspire us to be less of a wimp — who force us to take action and literally put ourselves out there more.

One of these inspiring people is Kate Finlayson. You may not have heard of her, but she was an incredible young woman who suffered extreme and unnecessary amounts in her short life.

An amazing swimmer in her day, Kate broke rec league records while suffering from a condition called hydrocephalus – a condition which causes too much fluid to build up within the brain.  The only way to currently treat hydrocephalus is to insert a plastic shunt in the brain to help drain the fluid, something that is incredibly painful and dangerous. The shunt itself is faulty in function and also leaves the person susceptible to infection.

Kate had over a hundred brain surgeries in attempt to treat her hydrocephalus, causing great pain and suffering. Throughout her 26 years she remained positive, and the one time I did get to meet her, I was really taken by her sweetness and how happy she was, even after all she had been through.

The entire Finlayson family stood by Kate, and went about searching for a cure – something to help others and prevent them from suffering the way Kate did. A family of talented athletes, they turned to something they do extremely well: swim.

They created a team called Team Hydro in 2008, with four swimmers swimming the San Francisco Sharkfest Race – the famous race from Alcatraz attempted by former inmates to escape from the prison to the San Francisco shore. Team Hydro’s four members had friends sponsor them, and raised $10,000 to help fund awareness for the non-profit Hydrocephalus Association.

Over the years, this team has grown with people wanting to help – some who knew Kate but most who are simply inspired by the Finlayson family and their courage and desire to help others:

2008 –> 4 swimmers (raised: $10,000)
2009 –> 23 swimmers (raised: $27,000)
2010 –> 75 swimmers (raised: $80,000)
2011 –> 125 swimmers  – $85k in counting

With such amazing success, this is now the second year Team Hydro will be funding a research grant in Kate’s name. A team at UCSD has used Team Hydro’s 2010 fundraising to work on hydrocephalus research — research that has led to incredible discoveries in the past year that has led to great optimism among the doctors about what they can accomplish over the next year.

So, how could I not be inspired by all of this great work? And after having an incredibly selfish and happy 2010 (I did get married to BASG – is there anything more self-involved than having a wedding?) I wanted to do something good for someone else and try to make a difference, too.

That is why I have signed up as a member of Team Hydro, swimming Sharkfest this Saturday, June 25.

After our practice this past weekend, my first time swimming in the Bay, I have to say I’m completely freaked out. The wimp in me is very tempted to complain about how my wetsuit feels like it’s choking me and how my face feels frozen in the water – all this preventing me to get any air – should I really do this race after all?

Of course I am going to do this race. How could the minor discomforts and difficulties of swimming in the Bay even come close to comparing with what people with hydrocephalus feel every day of their lives?

So, my new non-wimp plan is to swim like Buster Posey:

— Use Buster’s Napoleon Dynamite good looks to get people out the way, “Gosh, come and eat this ham!”

— Use my sweet moves to avoid sharks … and Marlins like Scott Cousins.

— Finish my first-time race in style – possibly the Sharkfest Rookie of the Year award?

So if you can support this amazing cause and my non-wimp Team Hydro swim, please click here to donate. Even if it’s just $1, every dollar really does count for Team Hydro and their research grant.

I am inspired and I will no longer be a wimp. And as I swim I will think of braver people than me and that no one, not even Buster Posey, could ever be braver than someone like Kate Finlayson.

Donate now!

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