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An Angel, Changing the World, and taking Biology 4th Period

California high school student endures open water swims to benefit world's poorest children

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An Angel, Changing the World, and taking Biology 4th Period

Jewel Slemmons, 21CJ Reporter

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The world has an angel, and she’s a high school student.

Angel More is a 15-year-old junior who lives in San Carlos, Calif., and attends Menlo School. She’s like other teens in many ways, but unlike most, More swims in dark, cold, open waters before school and is setting world records for marathon swimming (and mountain climbing) to raise money for Children International, an organization that helps children around the world find a path out of poverty. More’s efforts are making headlines across the country, including her hometown newspaper, San Francisco Chronicle , USA Today and CNN. More’s broader mission is for all teens to know they can make a big difference in the world through small actions.

BV West has had several individuals and groups who have the same desire to do good work for others. 2016 alum, Haley Bates, organized a successful Color Run with almost 300 participants. 2017 alum, Coleman Barnes organized each grade to sponsor a poor child in Honduras and raised enough money to pay for the educations of twice as many children. The yearbook sold baked good at basketball games in 2017 to benefit seniors in Marathon, Fla. after their school was ravaged by Hurricane Irma. During this school year, seniors in the Jaguar Pride Coalition are organizing events to benefit groups ranging from Special Olympics to underprivileged women in Third World countries. Jaguars have a passion for helping others, just like More.

“First, you have to find something you are passionate about,” More said. “You can’t do much without really wanting it. After that, you just go for it. People love to help when they see young people with passion. As long as you are doing good things to help the world, it is enough. You don’t have to do huge things to make a difference.”

When More was just 10-years-old, More was the youngest person ever to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and this summer, she set two more World Records as the youngest person to complete the California Triple Crown of marathon swimming and the Angel Island round-trip swim. In the California Triple Crown, More conquered the Santa Barbara Channel (12 miles and 7.5 hours to swim) and the Catalina Channel (20 miles and 14.5 hours to swim), she completed the last leg to take the Crown by swimming the length of Lake Tahoe (21.3 miles). One week later, Angel completed what one of her coaches, Evan Morrison, called, “the grittiest extended swim I have witnessed.” It was expected to take seven to eight hours to complete the Angel Island swim but instead took 11 hours because of fierce tides and wind.

“It was humbling to see a 15-year-old persevere to her goal in these strongly adverse conditions,” said Morrison. “I was privileged to be there to see it. We were witnessing the soul of a fighter in real time.” 

More’s next mission is to rally other teenagers to join her. On Oct. 28, teens in the San Francisco Bay area will participate in a swim – Escape from Alcatraz to Escape Poverty – that More organized to benefit Children International. Teens will swim from Alcatraz to shore. Anyone can donate to her fundraising page.

Through all of her efforts, More has raised close to $50,000 for Children International. She likes the way CI approaches the problem of poverty: surrounding kids from toddlers to young adults with a caring team, a safe place and access to programs focused on health, education, empowerment and employment. Sponsored children from the CI program sent More this encouraging video prior to her last two record-breaking swims.

“I never thought I would be setting world records and going on CNN. That’s a surprise for me,” More said. “I just found something that I was passionate about and continued doing bigger and bigger swims. I think raising money for Children International pushed me to do the long swims because I really wanted to get attention so I could raise money to help kids who are just like me, except I born into opportunity and they were born into poverty. We all have dreams.”

Like BV West students who have parents and teachers, like Dr. Laura Restivo and Deborah Glenn, who inspire them to take on challenging projects, More draws strength from her parents.

“My family has always helped me accomplish everything I have dreamt of,” said More. “When I first wanted to swim Alcatraz, my mom was unsure of what the steps were. She did the research and took me to train in the Bay, so I would be ready. Since then, my mom and dad have been driving me to swim practices as early as 3:30 a.m. They have been cheering me on at races, my sister along with them, and they have helped me meet other people who can help me accomplish my dreams. I owe everything to my parents.”

What does the future hold for this teenage More?

“I always thought that I could do something to help others, and I have always wanted to,” said More. “Being able to accomplish my dreams while helping children around the world accomplish their dreams is amazing. I want to continue helping people who don’t have the same opportunities I have. I hope to do this by starting my own nonprofit either this year or next year, which I will continue to run throughout my life.”

Look for senior Ben Coates and the basketball team to help a local food pantry later this school year and seniors Cora Sorenson and Cap Kelly to organize a Hoops for Hope tournament to benefit children at Children’s Mercy Hospital. It looks like there are teen angels among us whether they’re in California or right here in Kansas.

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