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Young Tampa swimmer honors mother in cancer research fundraising event

Eleven-year-old Wyatt Deaton has raised more than $3,000 for Swim Across America and will participate in the organization's event in St. Petersburg on May 7.

TAMPA, Fla. — Michelle Deaton remembers telling her son, Wyatt, that she had cancer. 

"I said, 'I need you to go with me to get a wig because the medicine that I'm taking is going to make me lose my hair.' Of course, he got very upset," she said. 

Doctors diagnosed Michelle with secretory carcinoma, a rare form of breast cancer, in April of 2018. At the time, Wyatt was eight years old and had just joined the Tampa Elite Aquatics Manta Rays, a local competitive swimming team.

Shortly after, the Deaton family learned about Swim Across America, a national organization hosting swim events to raise money for cancer research, clinical trials and patient programs.

Joining was a no-brainer for Wyatt.

Now 11-years-old, he has raised more than $3,000 and is preparing to swim two miles in Swim Across America's May 7 event in St. Petersburg.

"I'll probably think about [my mom], the impact that I'm making to all the people that have had cancer and the people that know somebody with cancer," he said about swimming in the event. 

"We prayed, and prayed, and prayed for a child and we got Wyatt. I'm just proud of him," Michelle said.

Swim Across America's event begins at 8:20 a.m. on May 7 at North Shore Park.

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