Brophy alumni and current students swim to Alcatraz

Men for Others never stops.

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1984 Ashton, Marc_alcatraz swim (wp)On Sunday, September 29th, 11 Brophy students and alumni will be embarking on a historic swim from Alcatraz. The alums and students will be the sighted guides for 3 blind swimmers as they swim the 1 ½ mile channel between Alcatraz and San Francisco in 59 degree water. The three blind swimmers, including Brophy senior, Max Ashton, will be the first ever to swim the channel in Alcatraz Invitational’s 18 year history. “I want to swim Alcatraz because I want to prove to the world to not count me out just because I can’t see like everyone else. Brophy didn’t count me out. These Brophy Alumni aren’t counting me out. I hope Harvard, Stanford and Columbia won’t count me out, either.”

The idea to swim Alcatraz came from Alumni Jim Drake ’84 who, after guiding a 12-year-old blind student rim-to-rim across the Grand Canyon in 2010, knew blind students could swim Alcatraz. “I swam it in 2009. I knew if a blind student could do Rim to Rim in a single day, he could swim Alcatraz,” said Drake, who is now Arizona’s Assistant Secretary of State. “I pitched it to Marc Ashton and here we are.” Marc Ashton ’84 is the CEO of the Foundation for Blind Children and Max’s father. “Once Jim Drake convinced me our kids could do this, I reached out to my Brophy classmates Mike Tiffany ‘84 and Tom Palmer ‘84.” Mike Tiffany, a four-time veteran of Alcatraz, and one of Max’s sighted guides was nervous at first, “Alcatraz is hard. It’s very cold. The water is very choppy and the currents are strong, but I know Max is determined. Heck, he is the youngest blind person ever to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. I’m proud to be on his team.”

“This is what Brophy instills in our students,” said Brophy Regent Tom Palmer ’84, one of Katie Cuppy’s sighted guides, “We graduated from Brophy 30 years ago, but here we are being the eyes for those without vision. Men for Others never stops.”

To follow their historic swim, please go to Foundation for Blind Children’s website www.SeeItOurWay.org

Photo left to right: Jim Drake ’84, Craig Machen ’87, Ben Drake ’17, Jim Mooney ’84, Eric Stelzer ’16, Katie Cuppy (blind swimmer), Marc Ashton ’84, Max Ashton ’14 (blind swimmer), Tom Palmer ’84 (Brophy Regent), Tanner Robinson (blind swimmer), Mike Tiffany ’84, Ed Hendricks ’87, Jim Stelzer ‘84