Lake George
United States

Louise Rourke and Bridget Simpson completed their relay swim in Lake George in less than 22 hours.  

We are keeping the link for donations open until the end of September.  Louise set a goal of $32,000 which we have not yet reached.

While donations of any amount are appreciated, we have designated some specific sponsorship levels:

“End Polio Now” Sponsor $2500

With this sponsorship 4160 children will be vaccinated

“Polio Advocator” Sponsor $500

With this sponsorship 833 children will be vaccinated

“Polio Champion” Sponsor $250

With this sponsorship 417 children will be vaccinated

“Polio Supporter” Sponsor $100

With this sponsorship 166 children will be vaccinated

Support two women who will be swimming the length of Lake George to raise funds to end polio.

Louise Beckerle Rourke and Bridget Simpson will relay swim the length of Lake George.  They are planning to swim the 32 miles in five-mile increments, sharing the first and last miles on their way to Diane's Rock.

  • 32 miles

  • 24 hours

  • 2 swimmers

This event took place Monday July 30 - Tuesday July 31.

Swimmer Louise Beckerle Rourke 

Louise contracted polio at 6 months of age, paralyzing her right leg. She attended elementary school in Queensbury and enjoyed all the activities a young girl might. Louise benefitted from early rehabilitation and many surgeries at Sunnyview Hospital in Schenectady and at New York University medical Center Hospital in NYC. This enabled her to learn to walk with a leg brace until she was 12 years old. Her additional surgeries allowed her the support and stability to walk without a brace.

Louise’s family moved to Waynesboro, Virginia. After graduating from Waynesboro High School, she obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont. Louise taught in the South Glens Falls School System and then returned to graduate school at SUNY Albany. Louise obtained a master’s Degree in Social Work and subsequently worked as a school social worker for the Ballston Spa School System for more than 27 years before retiring in 2010.

She married John Rourke in 1979 and have they had two sons, Sean and Devin.

Louise’s family was fortunate to have a camp on Lake George where she spent every summer swimming and enjoying the beautiful lake. She has always been a swimmer. Louise felt more graceful in the water than on land. However, Louise didn’t let the effects of polio prevent her from pursuing any interests. She learned to alpine ski using outriggers.

When Louise was just 4 years old, she remembers learning of Diane Struble’s swim of the 32-mile-long Lake George. She dreamt that perhaps, someday, she could do that. Louise met Bridget Simpson in September of 2017. Bridget completed her swim of the lake during the summer of 2017 and encouraged Louise in pursuing her dream. Louise has been preparing for the swim throughout the year by swimming at the YMCA in Saratoga.

This opportunity to swim and also raise funds for Rotary’s Global Polio Eradication effort will truly be a dream come true for Louise.

Swimmer Bridget Simpson

Bridget has been an open water swimmer since 1999. She has participated in swims in Lake Champlain, the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River, St. Croix and the Hudson River and supported many causes. Through teaching swimming, coaching and leading group fitness classes, Bridget has encouraged and been inspired by swimmers of all ages and skill levels for 28 years, and she has many more goals in mind. Bridget swam Lake George to celebrate turning 50. People told her afterward that they couldn’t imagine swimming for that long. She told everyone that we all need to find our own adventures that bring them a sense of accomplishment. We all get to set our own goals and we get to decide how we define success.

The relay Louise and Bridget are planning will be swum to their specifications. They are planning to swim the 32 miles in five-mile increments, sharing the first and last miles on their way to Diane’s Rock.

Their hope to increase awareness of the lingering existence of Polio in the world, and to show that with or without polio, there are goals to be set, and adventures to be shared.

What are YOU doing on your summer vacation? Care to join them?

You can also mail your donation to:

Rotary District 7190 / Polio, PO Box 306, Clifton Park, NY 12065.

For more information, please contact Rotarian Doug Ford at ford@curtislumber or 518-365-4958