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The concept of BARDEUM started with a swim across the English Channel.  


In 2012, I was training as part of a six-woman relay team to swim a double crossing of the English Channel (from England to France and back again) to raise money and awareness for ALS/MND (Lou Gehrig’s disease).  Four months before our swim, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. 

Over the next 7 months I underwent surgery to remove the tumor; endured 16 weeks of chemotherapy; swam to France and back again (setting a relay world record); had six weeks of daily radiation; and then… a routine CT discovered a brain aneurysm.  I underwent a craniotomy to clip the aneurysm - which per my neurosurgeon appeared ready to burst.  Ultimately, in a bizarre twist of fate, breast cancer saved my life.

All this made it very clear that life should not be taken for granted.  My husband and I decided we would no longer put off the things we always wanted to do and our family began to travel. We went to dream destinations and began checking the well-known tourist sites and museums off our list. 


Unfortunately, we were often underwhelmed by the experience.  The standard guides offered dry boring facts and the tiny plaques left us with little more than where we started.  Every so often, we would come across a wonderful tour guide who gave us a real glimpse into the past.  But tours can be expensive, difficult to find availability or fit into a time schedule.  And, surprisingly, sometimes the guide gave inaccurate information. It felt as though we were only getting gratification from checking something off our list as opposed to truly enjoying the site itself.

I began researching not just the general history of these sites, but specifically the stories of the people who gave these sites real meaning.  Sharing these stories with my family as we stood on the same spot of ground as these famous characters from the past made a vast difference in our experiences. 

We spent time trying to imagine what it would have been like to have witnessed those events: to sneak through secret passageways at the Palazzo Vecchio and share state secrets with the Grand Duke of Tuscany; to be at the Roman Colosseum and witness a Gladiator fight; to be at the Yew Tree Ball at Versailles and see Louis XV meeting the love of his life; or to stand side-by-side with Leonardo da Vinci as he crafted one of his masterpieces. 
I realized that education given through quality storytelling was the key to making these experiences  valuable and satisfying - not just a check on our bucket list.