Member Profile: Jenny Lao Swimming Across America

 
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We sat down with Dogpatch Boulders member Jenny Lao to talk about why she’ll be swimming across the Bay this Saturday!
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How did you start climbing, and how long have you been climbing for?

After I moved home from college, my best friend took me on one of my first hikes in Big Sur. We got lost for about 24 hours until search and rescue found us. From that day forward, our lives spiraled into a whirlwind of adventure. Exploring the vertical world seemed like the appropriate next step. We started climbing together shortly after that, and have been climbing for approximately two and a half years now.

..woah! When did you first start climbing with at Dogpatch Boulders, what do you like about climbing here?

I started climbing when Dogpatch Boulders opened in January 2013. The climbing community is awesome! The climbers at Dogpatch are so friendly and supportive. I’ll always have a goofy grin every time I’m within a few steps of entering the door, because I know I’ll see some of my best friends, familiar faces, or meet a refreshing new friend.

Outside of climbing, what are the activities and interests do you have?

I know this is climbing related (can’t help it!). I volunteer for Girlz Climb On through Girl Ventures, an organization that strives to empower adolescent girls to develop and express their strengths. I am a volunteer mentor and photographer for the Girlz Climb On at Mission Cliffs.

I love the outdoors. If I’m not climbing, I’m usually hiking or backpacking. I used to surf, but I’ve recently sold my surfboard Anastasia. If I’m not covered in dirt or chalk, I’ll most likely be at a show around the city for live music, improv, outdoor films, or whatever.

What do you do professionally?

I work in healthcare technology supporting and managing client accounts. I spent some time in the non-profit organization in Genentech, and have moved over to a genetic screening company called Counsyl.

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How did you get involved in Swim Across America? Tell us about your swimming challenge?

My Aunt Ying and Uncle Fan, who are siblings, passed away from lung cancer. Hours after my Aunt Ying’s funeral, I picked up a brochure for Swim Across America, an organization that raises money and awareness for cancer research, prevention, and treatment through swimming events. Instantly, I felt an emotional connection to the SF Bay Swim since my aunt and uncle used to take me to swim practice as a kid. ‘It’s a sign,’ I thought.

After my Aunt Ying passed, I struggled to cope with my loss. The traverse across the bay allows me to make tangible sense of the emotional pain I experienced when my Aunt Ying and Uncle Fan passed away from lung cancer. It is a symbolism of courage during their battle with cancer.

I will be swimming a half-mile from the Golden Gate Bridge to Chrissy field to honor my Aunt Ying and Uncle Fan on Sunday, September 27, 2015 with Swim Across America. The event raises money to support the Survivors of Childhood Cancer program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco and cancer research programs at Swim Across America Laboratory for Pediatric Cancer Resarch at Children’s Hospital Research Institute Oakland (CHORI).

How has the Dogpatch Boulders community supported you and how can people help out now?

Climbing has been a healthy outlet for me. The mental and physical challenge of climbing and the amazing community keeps me grounded. My friends, some of which are Dogpatch staff members, and I have always supported one another. I was at Dogpatch the night I heard about my Aunt Ying, and wouldn’t have wished to be anywhere else. I was close to my family, friends, and was able to get lost in a sport that I love.

You can help support me on my swim by donating to my fundraising page with Swim Across America. Swim Across America is 501(c)(3). All donations are 100% tax deductible and support the Survivors of Childhood Cancer program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco and cancer research programs at Swim Across America Laboratory for Pediatric Cancer Resarch at Children’s Hospital Research Institute Oakland (CHORI). My Aunt Ying lived for 7 years after given a life sentence of 3 months. By channeling her optimism and persistency and by supporting programs such as the UCSF Benioff Children’s hospital and CHORI, we may be able to prolong the lives of many others and help find a cure for cancer.

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