On Saturday hundreds of people came out to brave the cold weather and the even colder water to take part in the first ever Polar Bear Plunge at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai to raise money for Special Olympics. Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko and Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner were there and both took the plunge for charity along with hundreds of other plungers and spectators.
At plunge time the temperature was about 52 degrees and breezy on the beach. On Saturday evening total donations for the plungers was $28,454 according to the Polar Bear Plunge website.
"None of the athletes pay a single penny to participate because of events like this one here this morning," said Lesko.
The lead fundraiser for the event was Thomas Roach whose son Tommy has autism. Roach raised $2,095 by Saturday evening. He said that the Special Olympics is a cause that is close to his heart.
Plungers were well protected with ambulance companies from various towns including Port Jefferson just in case, along with a scuba team, lifeguards, police and fire departments.
Special Olympics New York gave Supervisor Lesko a special award thanking him for helping the group organize their first Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser in the town.
"It clearly has an amazing turnout especially for our first year," said Jen Russo of New York Special Olympics during the presentation. "We've already gotten so many compliments on the way the community has embraced this plunge."
The Special Olympics New York State Winter Games will be held next year on Feb. 4-5 in Syracuse. The website for the Special Olympics says that they host three annual state games and more than 4,000 total competitions every year throughout New York.