In just a few short weeks in mid-January, the North Fork Polar Bears managed to rally hundreds of people to Truman’s Beach in East Marion for the inaugural “Splash for CAST” Jan. 29 to benefit the Center for Advocacy, Support & Transformation.

More than 175 people took the pledge to plunge for CAST, but more than a hundred more  braved a southerly breeze but an otherwise balmy-for-January to cheer on their loved ones as the ventured into the waters of the Long Island Sound, under the watchful eye of the East Marion Fire Department’s rescue boat and cold water rescue and ambulance crews from the East Marion and Orient fire departments. 

CAST Executive Director Cathy Demeroto said their goal was to raise $10,000 from the event, but they ended up raising more than $45,000.

“It’s so heartwarming to see a group of friends who have a passion for something, in this case a love for cold water swimming. They wanted to take their passion and their friendship and do something good for the community,” said Ms. Demeroto at the event. “It could not come at a better time, with the really alarming increase in food insecurity across our nation, but in Southold Town and Shelter Island. The number of people coming to CAST for help with food, with emergency assistance for oil, for rent, for electric, is unprecedented.”

The North Fork Polar Bears are an informal group of like-minded cold-water enthusiasts who meet regularly to seek adventure, inspiration, calm and community in the cold waters of the North Fork. All are welcome to join for daily or weekly plunges! Follow them on Instagram @NorthForkPolarBears.

Founded in 1965, the Center for Advocacy, Support  & Transformation (CAST) supports underserved and vulnerable populations to ensure food, shelter, education, employment, and health security.  Its mission is to provide a safety net and promote self-sufficiency for North Fork and Shelter Island residents in need. For more information, visit or follow them on Instagram @CASTNorthFork or Facebook @CASTNorthFork.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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