OCEANSIDE — On May 7 a group of about 50 put on their best dresses and took a plunge in the chilly waters by Oceanside Pier. The Mother’s Day Fancy Dress Swim has been an annual tradition for the past eight years.
This year the unique fundraiser, which raises money to prevent malaria, was moved to Saturday.
Event founder Marlaine Cover said the fundraiser swim is the best way she can think of to celebrate Mother’s Day weekend. Over the years she has participated with her mother and daughter.
On Saturday ladies in prom and bridesmaid dresses gathered on the beach for coffee and donuts, group pictures were taken, then hand in hand they entered the ocean and dove under. The water temperature was a brisk 65 degrees.
Other organizations worldwide hold fundraisers to prevent malaria, but Oceanside is the only event to hold a fancy dress swim. The fun-spirited event also receives online donations.
“It’s so much fun, and so easy,” Cover said. “To be able to save a life is a pretty cool opportunity. We’re hardwired to care about others.”
One hundred percent of funds raised go to the Against Malaria Foundation to buy $3 insecticide-treated bednets that protect families from mosquito-borne malaria. The nonprofit purchases nets, distributes them and educates families on their use.
The simple solution has made a big impact.
Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease that kills more than 1 million people a year, including a high percentage of young children and pregnant women. Insecticide-treated nets are the most effective means of prevention.
Nets are distributed in high-risk areas in Congo, Tanzania, Malawi and India. The Against Malaria Foundation has found one life is saved for every 50 to 250 nets that are installed.
Most years the Oceanside event raises more than $500. Cover said she thinks of it as saving 10 lives.