Many deputies and law enforcement colleagues are so dedicated to the LASD volunteer-powered 999 for Kids program, which provides specialized medical equipment and services for disabled L.A. County youth, that they create and participate in fundraising events all on their own time. Few take that dedication further than the hardy participants of the annual 26-mile team relay swim from Catalina Island to Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, now in its fifth year. This August 17, eight swimmers from LASD, LAPD and the Port Police crossed the Catalina Channel, raising a record $15,000 for their favorite charity.
Beginning at 9 p.m. on August 16, LASD Lieutenant Joe Badali, LASD Sergeants Brent Carlson and Matthew Elash, LASD Deputies Luca Gaetani, Dean La Chasse and Welby Cham, LAPD Detective Kara Clifford and Port Police Officer Tyler Hellinga swam through the night in one-hour segments, aided by a support boat and staff. The swimmers braved the cold, dark waters without wetsuits for both comfort and safety reasons (wetsuits get too hot, are uncomfortable around the neck, and can cause sharks to mistake the wearers for seals). Accompanied along the route by playful dolphins, a few whales with calves, and one smitten seal, the swimmers completed the last leg of the relay together, emerging from the San Pedro surf 13 hours later to a welcoming crowd.
For more information about 999 for kids, email 999forKids@lasd.org.