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Unit4 Swims for ALS in the Amsterdam Canals

Posted by  Leoni Janssen

I am sure you saw plenty of Ice Bucket Challenge videos for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) last year on Facebook. People were brave enough to pour buckets of ice-cold water on themselves as a way to show their support for research into this debilitating and fatal disease. The Ice Bucket craze is over, but ALS is a condition that deserves attention and support.

In the Netherlands, the Amsterdam City Swim, a 2 kilometer sponsored swim through the canals of Amsterdam, raises money for ALS research. The canals are not known for their cleanliness or warmth, so getting in and getting dirty and cold is where the homage to everyone with ALS starts.

The City Swim started in 2011 as an initiative by a group of friends of ALS sufferer Weert-Jan Weerts. His friends felt powerless to help him in his daily fight and took the initiative to raise money by organizing a swim. Weert-Jan attended the City Swim three years running before he passed away in 2013. In 2012, the Swim received much attention when Maxima, now the Dutch queen, participated. She won hearts by showing that profound commitment to a deserving cause. In 2013, the best swimmer the Netherlands has ever had (gold medalist in the Olympics in 2000 and 2004 in the 100 meter free), Pieter van den Hoogenband, participated. As such, the event is very well known in the Netherlands and as an important event in the global swimming calendar.

This year, Unit4 is entering a Company team which includes swimmers of all abilities. Because it’s for a good cause, it is much more about participating and collecting donations for ALS than about swimming the best time, although one of our employees, Mark Baars, has pledged to take a shot at the world record at the City Swim!

The team participating is from the central marketing team and includes:

  • Mark Baars – SEO specialist - swimmer for all of his life, currently competitive in national, 100 and 200 meter breast stroke and recently swam against the world top in the Eindhoven Swim Cup .
  • Christian Weichelt – Global head of Digital Campaigns in the Unit4 central Marketing team and a.i. Marketing Director Benelux – was a competitive swimmer for many years as a teen ager and currently one of the most fit and disciplined professionals I know.
  •  Ivo Totev – Global head of Marketing a.k.a. Unit4’s CMO – “Always in for a good challenge”, initiator of the team’s participation, used to be a competitive rower, now a world traveling executive expat, runner, and triathlon enthusiast.
  • And me – Leoni Janssen – Global head of Corporate Communications at Unit4 – competitive rower back in the day, awful swimmer but determined to make it to the finish, native to Amsterdam and swam the Amsterdam City Swim in 2013 in around the same time as the queen did

We are not getting cold and dirty for fun or for rewards other than to raise money and awareness for a very deserving cause. Please sponsor us here – every cent will make a difference!

Leoni Janssen

Leoni Janssen

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