The Perseverance Award

The Robert J. Astheimer Memorial Foundation commemorates the legacy of Bob Astheimer and his perseverance in the face of the debilitating symptoms of a stroke at age 49 and a rare blood disorder – polycythemia vera – for the following 15 years.

Bob trained for and completed the 4.4-mile Great Chesapeake Bay Swim (GCBS) from 1990 to 2019 and he received numerous awards for his finish times.  In 2003, Bob suffered a stroke that resulted in paralysis on his right side.  As soon as he was able to get in the pool, Bob trained for and, despite his disability, completed the 2004 Bay Swim. 

Bob continued to participate in the event until 2019.  During the time that he participated in the swim Bob also contributed his time and expertise to the open-water swimming community as statistician for the GCBS, which allowed organizers to recognize swimmers who completed the swim multiple times. Bob was an inspiration to thousands of swimmers and swim event organizers and sponsors over the course of his 30-year engagement with the GCBS.

The RJA Foundation will continue Bob’s inspirational legacy by recognizing individuals who have overcome a physical, mental or emotional challenge to enable a personal achievement or an individual who has made a contribution to family, community, or country.  The first Robert J. Astheimer Perseverance Awards were made to three swimmers at the 2022 GCBS.

This year, the RJA Memorial Fund will present an award of $1000 in recognition of the achievement to a swimmer or any person serving in an official capacity at the 2023 GCBS, including organizers, EMTs, Coast Guard and support staff, on June 11.  

Award Nominations

Nominations should be no more than 1-2 pages and submitted as a MS Word or PDF file no later than May 11, 2023. Self-nominations will be accepted if two references are provided.

Include the name, address, phone number, and email address of the nominator and the nominee; background on the nominee; and a description of the nominee’s achievement or contribution and the challenge that was overcome.

Nominations for the award should be submitted to JoAnn Milliken, Director, RJA Foundation at with “RJA Perseverance Award” in the subject line.