... a Hartland college student finds an unique way to memorialize her swim coach and serve her community
How do you honor the legacy of a woman who was not only a swim coach but also a confidant, a role model, and a second mother?
Abby LeBlanc pondered this as she prepared to speak at Dorsi Raynolds’ memorial service. Raynolds, of Pomfret, VT, died from cancer this past April. Her swim team frequently called Raynolds “zesty” because she was a passionate coach, who demanded the best from her athletes, in and out of the water.
For the past seven years, Raynolds had coached LeBlanc at the Upper Valley Aquatics Center. She mentored LeBlanc when she was a middle school student in Hartland struggling with being bullied. Later, Raynolds recommended LeBlanc for a job as swim instructor at the UVAC, and she encouraged LeBlanc and the other swim captains to organize community service events. Raynolds inspired LeBlanc and the swim team with her “love of life and unique energy,” LeBlanc remembers.
Words alone were not enough of a tribute to such a woman, LeBlanc decided. So, she organized an event that Raynolds would have loved. An event combining swimming with community service. An event demonstrating that LeBlanc had learned the lessons of leadership Raynolds had strived to instill. A swim-a-thon dedicated to raising money for cancer research.
Abby LeBlanc proudly wore her Upper Valley Aquatics Center swim team shirt during a 2017 trip to Puerto Rico.
LeBlanc was perfectly poised to make the swim-a-thon a reality. This summer, LeBlanc, a freshman at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, has an internship with The Prouty. The two-day athletic event raises funds for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Most Prouty participants bike, walk, golf or row, but The Prouty also allows participants to create their own event to raise funds for cancer research. The swim-a-thon will be one such event. LeBlanc also partnered with Positive Tracks in Hanover. Positive Tracks provides support to youth seeking to create positive change primarily through athletic fundraising events. These two organizations have helped LeBlanc organize the swim-a-thon.
On July 26, swim-a-thon participants will strive to complete as many laps as they can during a set time frame. Those who swim the most laps for their age and gender category will receive a small prize. Prior to swimming, each participant seeks to raise donations to The Prouty. To her surprise, LeBlanc has surpassed her personal fundraising goals, and the swim-a-thon participants will probably exceed their goal of $3000. Through the efforts of LeBlanc and those participating in the swim-a-thon, other cancer patients will hopefully benefit from the life and legacy of Dorsi Raynolds.