Raising awareness on refugees and raising funds for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Melinda Menzer, 50, from Greenville, S.C., swam Saturday a 10-mile round trip at Lake Amistad, crossing the United States-Mexico border.
Menzer began her swim at Diablo East, with two kayakers carrying her nutrition and orienting her along the way. Before she took off into the water, Menzer said she obtained a permit to swim across the lake.
The swim was originally scheduled for 9 a.m. and was delayed till noon, due to the afternoon’s better temperatures and wind.
The route Menzer swam in the lake directed her to the islands located on Playa Tlaloc in Mexico. Menzer said she and the kayakers would stop at the nearest island and return to Diablo East.
There were no issues when she reached the island, as Menzer only touched land while she stood in shallow water.
Menzer said Lake Amistad is a beautiful site, but the wind was not in her favor in the beginning.
“The first four miles were a bit choppy, but the wind died down as we approached the Mexican side and stayed down for the rest,” Menzer said.
Approximately six hours after swimming in Lake Amistad, Menzer returned to Diablo East and finished her mission.
Menzer’s swim was also a fundraiser for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
The society is a Jewish-American refugee agency and one of the most experienced organizations helping migrants in the southern border, according to a press release. Currently Menzer has raised over $6,000 for the society.
The deaths of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his daughter Valeria, both asylum seekers from El Salvador who drowned in the Rio Grande in June, in the Rio Grande Valley, inspired Menzer, according to her team.
Menzer also visited the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition during her visit to Del Rio.
“We really wanted to learn about what was happening in Del Rio. They are doing important work there, helping people get to their sponsors throughout the country,” Menzer said.
Menzer and her team enjoyed meeting coalition staff and dropped off some scarves, that were handmade by Menzer’s mother, for people coming through this winter.
Menzer, herself, is a descendant of people who found refuge in the United States, according to a press release.
Menzer is a professor of English at Furman University. People can find more updates at “Swim for HIAS” on social media or contribute to the fundraiser at tinyurl.com/SwimforHIAS.