JEFFERSON VALLEY, N.Y. – On Wednesday, Jan. 15, dozens of swimmers from Club Fit Jefferson Valley hit the water and raised money for Panthera, a charity organization dedicated to the conservation of the world’s 40 wild cat species and their ecosystems.

The organization was co-founded by Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, a Mahopac resident who died in 2018. His daughter, Alana, a Mahopac High School senior, is on the Club Fit team.

Every year for the past decade, the team has held a Swim-a-Thon, where the team’s swimmers, aged 7-18, swim laps and raise money for a charity organization. Past charities include St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Sparrow’s Nest, and Friends of Karen.

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Last year, the team raised money for two organizations: Sparrow’s Nest and Panthera, the latter of which received an unprecedented $16,000.

“Normally we raise about $5,000,” said Kerri Going-Balbino, head USA swim coach at Club Fit Jefferson Valley.

Before the Swim-a-Thon, team members collect donations from family and friends—either a lump sum or per lap.

“They (the swimmers) think it’s important to give back to the community and it’s a great night,” Going-Balbino said. “It’s just a great event all around.”

This year’s Swim-a-Thon at Club Fit Jefferson Valley ran from 5 to 8 p.m. The money raised for Panthera from 2019 and 2020 has gone to and will be going straight to the Jaguar Corridor Initiative of Panthera, which works to preserve the genetic integrity and future of the jaguar by connecting and protecting core jaguar populations from Mexico to Argentina.

Donations can also be made directly to Panthera’s website.