Post Eagle Newspaper


Feb 22, 2024

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Piotr Biankowski “New York 20 Bridges” Swimming Challenge Tuesday, October 11th In Manhattan

Piotr Biankowski – an athlete and ice swimmer, a man with a heart open to helping others, the ambassador of the Polish Chapter of Ronald McDonald House Charities – is ready for a new feat! He is to swim an exhausting distance of 30 miles under twenty New York City bridges to support the construction of the third Ronald McDonald House in Poland. He will brave strong river currents, ice-cold water and extreme fatigue.

So far, only two Poles have successfully completed the Manhattan swimming marathon. On October 11th, 2022 Piotr Biankowski is going to undertake this challenge, at the same time launching a fundraiser for the purchase of the front door to the new charity project in Warsaw, a unique Home away from home for families of seriously ill and long term hospitalized children. Third of this kind Ronald McDonald House in Poland.

Piotr Biankowski recently set off on a long journey to New York, where he will take up another challenge in his sports career. The “20 bridges” swimming marathon around the Manhattan Island is one of the most prestigious ones in the world of long-distance swimming. It is a part of the so-called Triple Crown of Swimming (alongside crossing the English Channel between England and France and the Catalina Channel off the coast of California).

The New York Swimming Marathon spans as much as 30 miles, involving the passage of three main rivers successively – the East River with the Brooklyn Bridge on the border of Brooklyn and Queens, the Harlem River between Manhattan and the Bronx, and the mighty Hudson River with a view of the Washington Bridge separating Manhattan from the state of New Jersey..

Piotr Biankowski will brave the waters around Manhattan as the third Pole in history. It will be another extreme swimming feat in his career. Recently, he became the first Pole to swim across the legendary Loch Ness in Scotland. It took him just over 12 hours to cross the 21 miles long lake. A year earlier, after 15 hours of fighting with the elements and swimming as much as 37 miles, he crossed the English Channel in extremely difficult conditions.

A bridge signifies a shortening of the distance, a route necessary to overcome – says Biankowski. A bridge traditionally connects. It doesn’t  divide. New opportunities arise and cooperation is established. The bridge is stable, helpful, it can bear a lot, helping everyone. This is exactly what the Ronald McDonald House Charities has been doing in Poland for the last 20 years. I am proud to be its Ambassador and volunteer. RMHC is a charity, an organization to the common benefit. I am proud of the fact that my attempt to swim around Manhattan will inaugurate the process of collecting funds for the construction of the next, third Ronald McDonald House in Poland. Such Houses are places where parents and relatives of seriously ill children treated in hospital conditions find help and free hospitality in dignified, comfortable conditions.

A former Arka Gdynia rugby player, Piotr Biankowski is now a triathlete and one of the best extreme swimmers in the world. He has achieved, among others, completing the Ice Mile (swimming a mile in water at 1.2 ℃), a bronze medal in the world championship and third place in the World Cup in the 2019/20 season. He is an unquestionable champion in ice swimming, overcoming the cold, showing unwavering endurance and speed. He organizes Gdynia Winter Swimming Cup, an annual international competition, in which the world’s leading athletes specializing in winter extreme swimming compete. As he emphasizes – my passion is swimming in extremely cold water. I love doing this. But my greatest motivation is helping children. I am happy that I married my passion and supporting excellent aid programs, which are all implemented in accordance with the charity’s mission of „Keeping Famlies Close”.

Piotr’s attempt to swim the marathon will start on Tuesday, October 11th. He dedicated the swim to the Ronald McDonald House Charities Poland, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. This time, he combines his swimming challenge with a particular support for this organization. He wants to raise funds to support the construction of the new Ronald McDonald House to will be built at the largest pediatric hospital in Poland, the Institute – Children’s Memorial Hospital in Warsaw.

The outbreak of the war in Ukraine radically changed our assumptions and the everyday day of the programs implemented by the Foundation – says Katarzyna Rodziewicz, President of the Management Board and Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald Foundation. – Thousands of victims of the war, huge numbers of refugees led to a surge in demand for programs such as Ronald McDonald Houses. Places where the relatives of hospitalized children find support and help in ensuring basic living needs. We are currently helping a large number of Ukrainian families, and we know that the dramatic destruction of the Ukrainian medical care system will cause these statistics to only increase in the future (and in the long term). This will be particularly visible in the case of the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Warsaw, an institution in Poland that plays a key role in the public health care system. Hundreds of seriously ill children from Ukraine are already treated here. An even greater number of young patients from areas affected by the war use the help of hospital specialists as the reference center of the international aid network of leading pediatric hospitals. That is why we decided to locate the next RMHC House next to this hospital.

Ronald McDonald House is where the parents of the most seriously ill children stay. Kids are treated in the hospital’s oncology, hematology and cardiosurgery wards. They come from the most distant places from the hospital. The House is also for families of the children who have to stay in the hospital the longest. Whole families can live under the roof of the House in the immediate vicinity of the hospital in order to spare the child the additional stress of long separation from their loved ones. For parents, the availability of free accommodation in comfortable conditions of the House, close to the child, gives a sense of security and invaluable support in this difficult period.

The first Ronald McDonald House in Poland with twenty rooms and an extensive common area (kitchen, dining room, laundry area, meeting rooms) was opened in October 2015 in Krakow next to University Children’s Hospital. The second one has been operating since June 2021 next to Warsaw Medical University Children’s Hospital. It can host 25 families at the same time. In the first year of its operation, the Warsaw House welcomed over 140 families, some of them many times, while the longest stay of one family in the House in Krakow so far lasted 382 days. The unique atmosphere of these places, created by the Foundation’s team and numerous volunteers, makes everyone feel at home just after a few days of stay.

About RMHC Poland/ Fundacja Ronalda McDonalda

„Keeping Famlies Close” – this is the mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities whose chapter was established in Poland in 2002. The network of Ronald McDonald House Charities is an international organization that supports pediatric medicine in 65 countries around the world. The Foundation focuses on health prophylaxis for children and family-centered care during the serious illness and hospitalization of its youngest members. RMHC Poland is active nationwide and helped by companies, individuals and volunteers.

The most core programs of the RMHC Poland are Ronald McDonald’s Houses – comfortable, free-of-charge hotels for families of long-treated children and Ronald McDonald’s Family Rooms in pediatric hospitals. Families and caregivers of hospitalized children can use modern social space of the Family Rooms: kitchen, family parlors, laundry and bathrooms. Activities aimed at improving the conditions of the stay of a family with a child in the hospital are complemented by „Beds for parents” project. Resembling an armchair, it serves as a seat and a comfortable, fold-out bed. Such bed often triggers numerous changes at the of hospital and on the ward, changes that serve children and families.

Another key area of ​RMHC activity is cancer prevention. This is achieved, among others by the nationwide program of free ultrasound examinations called “NO to cancer in children“, provided on board of customized Care Mobiles. The Program meets need for early diagnosis of childhood cancer, combining the knowledge and experience of outstanding experts in the field of pediatrics, pediatric oncology, hematology and radiology, who ensure the highest quality. The partners of the program are ALAB laboratories, MAN Polska and the Common Reading Foundation. The medical partner of the program in 2005-2021 was TOP Medical, and since 2022 it has been the Medical Center of Warsaw Medical University. Funded by the Foundation, training for primary care physicians and family doctors on early cancer detection, lectures conducted jointly with IFMSA Poland and specialist publications for doctors and parents devoted to oncological prevention complement the list of RMHC Poland activity in early diagnosis of cancer symptoms in children.

RMHC built and runs 2 Ronald McDonald Houses in Poland. In Krakow, at the University Children’s Hospital, the House with twenty rooms for families has been operating since October 2015. The second, a slightly larger one, adjacent to Warsaw Medical University Children’s Hospital opened in June 2021 and can host 25 families at the same time. The Houses support families of hospitalized children not only through a free stay while the child is being treated in the hospital, but above all by ensuring the constant proximity of parents and siblings at this difficult time. As in every home, apart from comfortable bedrooms with bathrooms, there is a large shared kitchen, a dining room, a meeting place, a garden and an extensive library. Taking care of the House together is a substitute for normalcy for families. In the first year of its operation, the Warsaw House welcomed over 140 families, some of them many times, while the longest stay of the family in the House in Krakow lasted 382 days. The atmosphere of these places makes everyone feel at home after a few days.

Anyone can help maintain the Foundation’s programs by donating 1% of tax, financial and material donation or joining volunteer work. Visit our website, or social media Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram and Youtude.