(March 8, 2011)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

Swimming with Edgar
Staff member attempts swim in memory of grandfather

SHREVEPORT, La. (Centenary News Service) — When he started swimming a year ago, it was to get back into shape after a sports injury left him sidelined. He had very little swimming ability and it took him that long just to feel comfortable in the water.

Chris Lavan
Chris Lavan

Today he is forty pounds lighter and embarking on a swim-A-thon to raise funds for the American Cancer Society, and to honor the legacy of his grandfather who passed away two years ago from liver cancer.

"This is my personal mission in remembrance of my grandfather and the mark he left on me," said Chris Lavan Director of Intercultural Engagement and Community. "His passing and his legacy of service to the community serve as my inspiration to help find a cure for this type of cancer."

Lavan will be swimming at the Centenary College pool from March 7 through March 11 with a goal of swimming 10,000 yards while raising $2,000 personally to support cancer research. He is also trying to get local businesses to match his funds and raise a total of $10,000.

"I am trying raise awareness of not only the importance of cancer research, but also promote swimming as a form of exercise especially in the African-American community," said Lavan. "I think it is really important to pair the two together."

For the next five days, Lavan will attempt to swim at least 2,000 yards a day for five days to complete his goal. When he is done, he will have covered a distance of 5.6 miles.

"He is an 'awesome hero,'" said his mother, Betty Sims, who also serves as the principal at John J. Elementary School in the Calcasieu Parish School District.

Sims drove up from Lake Charles to be with her son as he began his quest on the first day. When he first told her of his idea, she thought if he was daring enough to say he wanted to do this, than the least she could do was encourage him during the process.

"He bounced the idea off me and I decided to do whatever I could from my end," she said. "This has been a wonderful experience for the entire family. When he first stepped in the pool on Monday, I thought, how wonderful, it is really happening."

To find out more on his daily progress, please visit his blog at http://swimmingwithedgar.blogspot.com or contact Lavan at chrislavan@gmail.com.

About Centenary College of Louisiana

Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and has been recognized as "One of the Best 371 Colleges" by the Princeton Review and one of "America's Best Colleges" and one of "America's Best Private Colleges" by Forbes.com. In 2008 Centenary College celebrated 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.