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Swimming with a purpose: Swimmers raise funds for Bolivian orphanage

June 12, 2014
By JIM LINETTE ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Thomas Pear and Bill Sawyers are taking another crack at the Swim Around Key West on Saturday, a 12.5-mile trek in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico starting and ending at the Bertha Street Boat Ramp.

"We did it for ourselves last year," said Pear, a professor at Hodges University and part-time Cape Coral resident. "I swam it in 6 hours, 45 minutes and Bill did it in 6:15."

This time they decided to do it for a worthy cause and raise money for the a Christian missionary Haven of Hope orphanage in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The orphanage is trying to raise the final $10,000 needed to complete a boys' dormitory so they can be reunited with their siblings.

Article Photos

Thomas Pear will be swimming around Key West on Saturday to benefit a Bolivian orphanage. He’s been training at the Cape Coral High School

"We are both active in our churches and mission minded," said Pear, who has been training in the evenings at the Cape Coral High School pool with Swim Florida. "One of my former students told me about the orphanage and once we did some research we thought it was worth it."

Pear, 50, and Sawyers, 58, a resident of Sanibel, have been asking the community to sponsor their swim at $1 per mile ($12.50 for the entire swim) with the proceeds going directly to the Haven of Hope dormitory project. The boys had to be housed at other orphanages because they could not share facilities with the girls, especially when they become teenagers.

"These kids would die on the street or be picked up and thrown in the sex trade without this orphanage," said Pear. "Our goal for the swim obviously is $10,000, but we have about $1,000 right now. We're praying for a miracle."

The orphanage houses 26 girls and have 10 boys waiting to be reunited with their sister. Overall, the orphanage has made a difference in the lives of 335 children who have been rescued from the streets, abused, abandoned or orphaned since opening in 2004.

Haven of Hope International executive director Alice Skaff has made several mission trips to the orphanage and her church in Fort Myers formally adopted the orphanage and has been raising funds to support operational expenses, fund special and building projects, oversight and accountability practices.

"Our fundraising campaign is called Extreme Hope Makeover and anyone can donate online with 100 percent of all donations going to the cause," said Skaff.

Haven of Hope receives support through prayer, strategic direction and financial resources that allows their leadership to create a true haven of hope that provides for the childrens' physical, emotional, educational and spiritual needs.

To donate and support the swimmers' cause visit



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