“I want to help children who often are faced with challenging circumstances at a hospital that has become very special to me.” Tim root
For at least two hours each day, Gonzales resident Tim Root trains for what could be the swim of his life.
Root, 30, is preparing for a 25-mile swim across Lake Pontchartrain to benefit Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.
The partnership between Root, a financial analyst, and the hospital started in January when Root was looking for his next long-distance challenge and OLOL was initiating a swimming safety program. Root toured the hospital and set a goal at not only raising awareness of the hospital’s swimmer’s safety program, but of all of the services it provides for children.
“I want to help children who often are faced with challenging circumstances at a hospital that has become very special to me,” Root said. “It takes a very strong person to be able to take care of sick children who are not able to take care of themselves and help the parents and caretakers of the children deal with the situation as it unfolds.”
Even more special, Root said, are the children who fight life-threatening illness and injury. He said he was impressed with the hospital’s facilities he saw during his tour. He was also moved by stories of healing.
“While my wife and I don’t have children yet, I’m incredibly grateful that such a facility exists within our community,” he said.
Teddi Hessburg, Our Lady of the Lake Foundation special events coordinator, said the money raised through Root’s swim will help with the hospital’s policy of treating children regardless of their ability to pay.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” she said, adding that community support provides at least $1.2 million in funding each year.
OLOL Children’s Hospital is the fastest growing children’s hospital in Louisiana, with more than 60 pediatric specialists treating more than 80,000 children in 2012, said Melissa Anderson, director of community relations. A new pediatric transport team takes children from around Louisiana and neighboring states to the Baton Rouge children’s hospital.
Root, who grew up on Lake Erie in Ohio, moved to Baton Rouge in 2010. He has completed open water swims in Ohio, Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Tennessee. Root serves as the long distance and open water chair for Southern Masters Swimming. He’s passionate about long-distance swimming, but prefers the swims that have a dual purpose. The Swim Across the ’Train fundraiser meets both.
Root competed in a 27-mile swim a few years ago, but the Lake Pontchartrain swim is expected to keep him in the water longer than for that swim. He expects it to take about 15 hours. To prepare, Root says, he’s logging lots of pool time. On the weekends, when the weather cooperates, he swims at a Zachary lake. The warm waters of south Louisiana present a different challenge from those he faced when swimming up north, he said. Warm water temperatures can cause dehydration.
The swim is set for Nov. 2, but weather or water conditions could force the date to change, Hessburg said. Hessburg said Root’s swim will include a support boat and possibly others swimming with him at different points in the event. Serving as his crew chief will be his wife, Amanda.
“She supports me in a lot of my long swims, and has helped me get through some very tough swims,” Root said.