The Star-News


Fund raiser is all wet

Sat, Oct 19 2013 12:00 PM Posted By: Carlos R. Davalos

Depending on when you read this, Sherry Lankston will be bobbing along merrily in the frigid Pacific this morning, or stumbling, perhaps, out of the water and onto the shore after what's supposed to be a leisurely five-hour ocean swim.

And she’ll do it again Saturday.

And Sunday.

And Monday.

That’s her plan, anyway.

While she swims two to three miles a week in a pool, Lankston isn’t a fitness fanatic. She’s not flaunting her workout regiment to shame couch slugs like me.

Instead she’s trying to raise awareness — and money — for the Living Coast Discovery Center. It’s the Chula Vista wildlife refuge that used to be known as the Chula Vista Nature Center.

It’s the same place that for years has been struggling to stay open and earlier this month announced it would shut its doors to the public Oct. 28 if it didn’t raise $200,000 in operating costs.

The center isn’t out of the woods but fans and supporters like her can see a clearing, with donations close to $170,000 and a little more than 10 days to go.

For her part Lankston has generated pledges totaling $2,085 on crowdrise.com. In all, $2,605 has been promised via that online fundraising website.

Initially Lankston had proposed swimming in a mermaid costume had supporters pledged $50,000.

Lucky for her no one was cruel enough to force her to put her flipper where her mouth is and she’ll make her way through the water like the rest of her two-legged counterparts.

In all, about six other people are expected to join Lankston Friday morning. Some in kayaks, some on paddleboards.

They met at Ballboa Park Wednesday evening to talk about logistics and safety.

She emphasized to everyone that it was not a race. The purpose was to bring public attention to the cause and not win first place. If there was ever a point in the swim where someone did not want to — or could not — finish the race, they were encouraged to stop and latch onto a bodyboard and finish the course getting towed along by a kayak.

As for Lankston, she said as long as velociraptors and sharks stayed away from her, she would be fine.

The center should be OK too. However, even though the center is close to making its immediate goal, there’s no guarantee another round of revenue scrambling won’t revisit it next year. Or the year after. It seems financial instability is as synonmous with the center as fish and saltwater.

But Lankston isn’t one to let pessimism weigh her down. She’s already considering plans for next year’s fundraising swim.

That should be plenty of time to raise enough money to get her into a mermaid costume and back into the sea.


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