For most 14-year-olds entering their sophomore year in high school, August days are meant for ice cream filled and hanging out with friends. For Charley Lei, an honor student at Andover High School, August is also a chance to fuse fun and volunteer work as he gears up to participate as a swimmer and kayaker in the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition’s annual Against the Tide swim, walk, run, kayak fundraising event.
A competitive swimmer for several years, Charley placed fifth place in the New England 14 & U Championships 200 freestyle relay at Harvard in 2012 and second place in the New England 12 & U Championships at Harvard in 2010, according to a release from the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition.
The organization said in a release that Charley has helped save both his mother and a friend from drowning.
“But his dedication to prevention doesn’t end there,” according to the group. “Charley is going above and beyond his participation as a swimmer, kayaker, and fundraiser for breast cancer prevention. He is now the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition’s youngest (and some would say busiest) intern.” Among his other activities like school, chess, music lessons, and, of course, swimming, Charley has been volunteering four hours each week with the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition.
His involvement with MBCC was initially sparked by a friend who asked him to help fundraise for the cause, but it endured because of Charley’s personal connection to the disease. His swim will be in honor of Grace Feller, a close family friend. Diagnosed with breast cancer, she endured the disease and its difficulties for many years.
“Each time I open my family album and flip to the pictures that show me just a day after being born, I can’t help but thank Mrs. Feller and all those who came to visit and give me great blessings. To pass those blessings on, to keep on blessing people and to wish her all the best, I will swim and kayak for this event,” he said in the release.