2014 SEALs for Sunshine
The Inaugural 13-Mile Swim Across Sebago Lake
In the spring of 2014, local Navy SEAL, CDR Mike W., envisioned a first-of-its-kind fundraising initiative for Camp Sunshine that would incorporate personal commitment, physical ability and mental endurance. In August of 2014, SEALs for Sunshine was born when Mike and three other active-duty Navy SEALs jumped into Sebago Lake and proceeded to swim the length of the lake in its entirety. By completing the 13 miles, the Team was able to raise enough money to sponsor and provide transportation costs for 40 military and special operations families who have a child battling a life-threatening illness.
With all the challenges military families face already, it is hard to imagine finding out your child has been diagnosed with leukemia, a brain tumor, retinoblastoma, renal disease, lupus, or any of the other diseases that Camp Sunshine faithfully serves. As a result of the SEALs for Sunshine event, the most vulnerable military and special operations families were given the opportunity to regroup, reenergize and restore hope for the future by participating in our one-of-a-kind program.
The first annual SEALs for Sunshine event concluded with a gala dinner that was hosted at Camp Sunshine’s 27-acre Campus in Casco, and celebrated the Team’s impressive accomplishment. Distinguished guest speaker, Justin Legg, addressed members of the audience prior to the awards ceremony, and attendees were able to meet the Team.
2015 Summit to Sunshine Challenge
A 94.9 Reverse Triathlon Like No Other
On July 30, 2015 the SEALs embarked on their next mission for Camp Sunshine - the 2015 Summit to Sunshine challenge. The event began with a run down the tallest peak in the Northeast, Mount Washington. It was a leg-pounding, heart-racing, 7.6-mile adventure - covering 6,300 vertical feet!
Once the first stage was completed, SEALs for Sunshine team members grabbed their bikes for a gut-wrenching and at times ridiculously hilly 83.4-mile cycle through Western Maine.
Finally, the team arrived at Camp Mataponi, a local summer camp located across the lake from Camp Sunshine. During this last leg of their event, the team completed their 3.9-mile swim to Camp Sunshine. When all was said and done, the team completed an impressive 94.9-mile challenge!
This reverse triathlon completely disregarded the usual premise of getting the hardest part over with first by ending with the swim portion. Additionally, the team needed to be in the best shape of their lives to start with the punishment that is the alpine course of Mount Washington. Read more about the Team's adventure in this Boston Globe article by Stan Grossfeld.
All of us at Camp Sunshine are humbled by the efforts of the SEALs participants, and we salute their unwavering commitment to raising money for these incredible families again in 2016!
2016 No Man Left Behind Challenge
A 40-mile Circumnavigation of Sebago Lake
In 2016, a team of four active duty Navy and Coast Guard participants completed the No Man Left Behind Challenge; a physically demanding 40-mile circumnavigation of Sebago Lake comprised of a bike, swim, run, swim, bike, run, swim, bike, canoe.
The event was specifically designed by CDR Mike W. to mimic the challenges Camp Sunshine families face after their child’s diagnosis. Be sure to check out all the photos from the No Man Left Behind Challenge and Gala where guests had the opportunity to mingle with the team!
Learn more about the 2016 No Man Left Behind Challenge by watching this piece put together by Bill Green’s Maine.
2017 Around The World Swim
A 10-Mile Open Ocean Swim Around Coronado Island
The Around the World Swim was a 10-mile open ocean swim around California’s Coronado Island on April 29, 2017. The event was inspired by the SEAL Hell Week evolution of the same name when students paddle small boats around Coronado Island. This swim symbolized the endurance and strength required by Camp Sunshine families.
Active and former military members began their swim on the beach of the famous Hotel del Coronado at sunrise. After navigating the 54*F waters, sea life, and boat traffic into San Diego bay, the swimmers finished at Glorietta Bay Park. The Beach Landing Party gave participants a chance to mingle with event sponsors and Camp Sunshine families from the San Diego area. The event raised in excess of $100,000 to support sending military families to Camp Sunshine.
“Just like the Camp Sunshine children and their families this event will support, the swimmers can’t quit – failure is not an option!” CDR Mike W., event creator said.
West Coast Marathon Paddle - 26.2 Mile Paddle along the Pacific Coast
East Coast Stone Coast Challenge - 70 Mile Triathlon Along Maine's Coast
In 2018, Camp Sunshine introduced two new challenges for our SEAL team members. For the first time, events took place on both the East and West Coast. Each required endurance, perseverance, strength and followed one simple mantra ... failure is not an option!
The first event took place in Southern California on May 19th, National Armed Forces Day, when as many as 25 former and retired SEAL team members set out to complete an on the water marathon! That’s right, paddling 26.2 miles along the Pacific Coast in kayaks and on paddleboards concluding at the San Diego Yacht Club. Many of this year’s participants completed the Around the World Swim last year around Coronado Island, and we are humbled and honored by their continued commitment.
Back on the East Coast, on August 23rd team members took part in their toughest triathlon challenge yet, an unprecedented attempt to complete a nearly three mile open ocean swim, 60 mile bike ride, and 10K run. Each event paid homage to one of Maine's toughest and most iconic endurance races.
The events raised a combined $80,000 to support sending military families with children with life-threatening illnesses to Camp Sunshine – a year-round, one-of-a-kind retreat in Casco, Maine.
2019 Swim For Sunshine Challenge
A 16-Mile Swim From Bridgton to Casco
On Thursday, July 25, 2019 the evolution of the SEALs for Sunshine events reached another pinnacle as swimmers embarked on their next mission for Camp Sunshine - The Swim for Sunshine Challenge. The event began in Bridgton, Maine and concluded 16-miles later at Camp Sunshine in Casco. This was the longest swim challenge in SEALs for Sunshine history!
The swimmers started their day on Long Lake in Bridgton, they then began an epic 8-mile journey to the causeway in Naples (stopping at Camp Takajo along the way). The team then swam the 2.5 mile length of Brandy Pond before entering the headwaters of the Songo River. For nearly 3 miles the brave men participating navigated the meandering waterway which opens up into Sebago Lake. The final leg to Camp Sunshine concluded with a typically windswept 2.5 miles.
Team members needed to be in the best shape of their lives to take on this challenge through 3 towns, 2 lakes, 1 pond, and a river.
The following evening Camp Sunshine hosted the 2019 Swim for Sunshine reception providing guests with the opportunity to meet and thank the SEALs and other team members.
2020 SEALs For Sunshine Virtual Challenge
3,200 Miles in One Day
Participants (many of whom are active-duty military personnel stationed in Alaska, California, Florida and Washington DC) signed up, pledged to run, walk, bike and/or swim a distance of their choosing on August 22, 2020. By the end of the day, a collective 3,200 miles had been completed by nearly 100 participants from 18 different states. Most importantly, $56,000 was raised for Camp Sunshine by these dedicated athletes.
2021 SEALs For Sunshine Challenge
Peak to Peaks Challenge
Participants began at the Peak of Mount Washington in NH at 5:30am and ran 7.6 miles down the Auto Road, then biked nearly 100 miles to East End Beach in Portland, ME before entering the harbor to complete a 2.4-mile swim to Peaks Island!
View some of last year's press coverage:
August 19, 2021: WGME - Navy SEALs run, bike, swim for Camp Sunshine