Annaliese Carr, left, was one of 12 recipients of the Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year award. The student from Simcoe, Ont.’s Holy Trinity Catholic High School raised almost $250,000 for Camp Trillium by swimming Lake Ontario last year. Photo by Evan Boudreau

For Annaliese Carr, age is no barrier to helping out

By 
  • March 23, 2013

TORONTO - For the second consecutive year Annaleise Carr, the youngest person to successfully swim across Lake Ontario, has been honoured as an Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year.

The student from Simcoe, Ont.’s Holy Trinity Catholic High School was one of 12 recipients this year. The award recognizes the accomplishments and commitments of young Ontarians in helping others.

“If you look up the word determination in the dictionary you will probably find a picture of this young lady,” said Dave Walton, director of home ideas for Direct Energy, who sponsored the awards along with TD Bank and Community Giving. “Last year Annaleise became the youngest person to successfully swim across Lake Ontario. By completing this swim she raised more than $230,000 for Camp Trillium, a camp for children with cancer.”

Although immortalized through her record-setting swim and the many awards she’s since received — which include a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the 2012 Canadian Sport Awards Spirit of Sport Story of the Year and 2012 TVO Kids “Super Citizen” Award — fame was never the goal for Carr.

“We did it for Camp Trillium and before we actually did the swim we had a tour so we knew what we were actually doing it for,” said Carr, 14. “As we were going around I got to meet some of the families and see some of the kids and they were just smiling and laughing and having a good time and forgetting about what’s happening outside of this camp. As we were leaving I told my mom that I wanted to do something more to help.”

Encouraged by her mother Debbie to do so, Carr brought her proposal to swim Lake Ontario to the administrators of the camp.

“I just wanted to help the camp so more kids could go have a good time,” said Carr. “I asked one of the ladies who worked there if I could volunteer and they told me I couldn’t until I was 18, so I starting thinking of other ways I could help.”

A competitive swimmer since age four, Carr had experience in distance swimming. Two years ago, she registered for the 10-km Are You Tough Enough swim out of Port Dover on the shores of Lake Erie. When one of the male swimmers participating in the Are You Tough Enough jokingly suggested Carr swim across Lake Ontario to raise money and awareness for Camp Trillium she dove right in.

“She came to us a year and a half ago wanting to swim across the lake and we told her no way, we’re not going to let her do that,” said Debbie. “Her and her sister Larissa kept convincing us (and) trying to tell us how it was safe. So we started looking into it and they convinced us.”

Unlike swims she’d done in the past, Carr not only had to prepare her body, she also had a fund raiser to organize.

“My initial goal was $30,000 and I didn’t even know if I was going to get that much,” said Carr. “Now I’m at over a quarter of a million dollars and money keeps coming in. It’s incredible. I would have never imagined that I would have gotten so much money.”

Carr isn’t letting up on the pace of her campaign. This summer she will switch roles with one of her pacers from the Lake Ontario swim as he sets out to conquer Lake Erie. Carr hopes to encourage him to use the swim to raise money for Camp Trillium. Either way, she said she’ll continue promoting the camp.

“I just like helping people and especially kids my age,” said Carr. “You’re never too young to do anything.”

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