VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Robert Cass is planning to swim anywhere from 11 to 16 hours across the Chesapeake Bay all because he fell in love with Ainsley's Angels Organization.
From running marathons to swimming in open water, the father of two Robert Cass’s lifelong fitness journey has always been just him one step, or stroke at a time.
That is until the day a friend asked him to run a race. A race where he would push a man who had been immobile and mostly unresponsive for 30 years across the finish line.
“He was catatonic, but his eyes were open. When we moved him, he had no idea what was going on. When we got him in the race chair, the crowd cheering his name and everybody giving him kudos he came alive in a way that I’ve never seen before and I was like wow we need to do more of this and after that, I was hooked,” Cass said.
His life was changed, after years of running Cass ran his first race for someone else and that day he became an angel runner for Ainsley’s Angel.
A national group active in 30 states bringing athletes and members of the special needs community together through the inclusion of endurance events.
“About a mile into the run it occurred to me. This is it. This is why I have been running to do this. In a mile it was more satisfying than running a marathon by yourself,” Cass said.
Now Cass is taking his passion for hitting the pavement to the pool.
Hoping to raise 50-thousand dollars for an organization that’s given purpose to his passion.
“I’ve been running for my whole life at different speeds and tempos and the whole nine yards and at some point, you get to a point where you are like okay, what’s next?” Cass said.
“The answer came to me immediately and that’s swim across the Chesapeake Bay,” Cass said.
For now, Roberts training is in the comfort of this pool, but he’s working his way to swim out in the open water. Starting at fisherman’s island he will swim the demanding 12.8 miles to buoy 44 at Chicks Beach.
As a working dad, he gets laps in when he can, usually spending five to seven hours in the pool on Sundays. He currently trains in the pool and practices yoga 3 to 5 times a week. He plans to get into the open water in March and train until September 1 when he will be ready to embark on the biggest challenge he’s ever set for himself.
“I don’t have to have a lot of money, I don’t have to have a lot of anything. You just have to realize what your gift is everybody has them not everybody realizes it. Two, not that you realize you have a gift what can you do to share it,” Cass said.
During his swim cases will be accompanied by a special team for safety-including a boat captain, a medic, two kayakers for navigation and a recorder. The swim will take him anywhere from 11 to 16 hours.