Tag Archive | "East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue"

A Swim to Save Lives

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By Mara Certic 

Hundreds of people are expected to show up to Fresh Pond in Amagansett on Saturday, July 12, in their bathing suits, trunks and goggles for a swim in aid of Fighting Chance, the cancer support group.

“Almost everything we do is fundraising for our community,” said Jim Arnold, one of the 10 officers in the East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue, which is hosting its fifth annual swim in conjunction with Swim Across America this weekend.

Swimmers must raise money in order to partake in the event; children under 14 must raise a minimum of $300 and those 15 and older must get pledges for at least $500. According to Mr. Arnold, however, over the years, each swimmer has managed to collect an average of $1,000 apiece for this swim, all of which goes to benefit Fighting Chance and cancer research.

“Pretty much everyone has a story about how cancer has affected their lives,” Mr. Arnold said. He added that this one athletic event has raised over $450,000 since its inception in 2010.

Participants of all ages can choose to swim the half mile, mile or 3-mile course. “This is one of the many areas in how accomplished our swimmers are,” Mr. Arnold said. “Our children are the youngest to start in the Swim Across America events.” He explained that there are over 40 Swim Across America swims throughout the country. “We have 7- and 8-year-olds swimming the half-mile in record time,” he said.

Saturday’s swim, he added, is not competitive. Swimmers vying for a title or prize can compete in the two races organized by Ocean Rescue this summer—the Montauk Ocean Swim later this month benefits the Montauk Playhouse and August’s “Red Devil” Swim raises funds for the East Hampton YMCA Hurricanes Swim Team.  Both of these events are timed.

“If we lived on the mountains in Vermont they’d be racing down hills in record time,” he said. The very high standard of swimming might also be attributed to the Junior Lifeguarding Program organized and taught by members of the organization.

The very popular youth program for children aged 9 to 14 attracts approximately 300 kids a summer to beaches in East Hampton, Amagansett and Montauk. The summer-long program is taught by Ocean Rescue members and certified ocean lifeguards and is designed to make children more comfortable in the water, to teach them water safety and to instill among them a sense of camaraderie. “They make lifelong relationships,” Mr. Arnold said.

The volunteer organization trains and tests all of the guards, Mr. Arnold said. They hold CPR classes and hold lifeguarding tournaments. “Our little community puts forward one of the highest achieving teams” at the Lifeguarding National Championships, he said. “We’re rated right up there with Santa Monica; they have about 1,000 guards to our 60.”

The first incarnation of Ocean Rescue was the Dory Rescue Squad, a group of dory boat fishermen who realized that there was a need for a group to respond to water-related emergencies.

When that group eventually disbanded, a group of local surfers and lifeguards formed the current organization as it is today. “We’re all leftover lifeguards,” Mr. Arnold said of the organization’s members. “We’re the masters, if you will.”

In addition to responding to 911 calls and spearheading educational programs, these maritime maestros and mavens also guard all of the triathlons and paddling events in the area, including Sag Harbor’s “Paddle for Pink,” which raised $1.1 million for charity last year. “That blows us away,” he said. “That was phenomenal.”

The group is also responsible for one of winter’s most highly anticipated East End events: the Polar Bear Plunge. For a meager fundraising fee of $30, participants get to welcome in the New Year by jumping into the water at Main Beach in East Hampton—and they receive a free embroidered winter hat.

With promises to have five members at any nearby water emergency within five minutes, Ocean Rescue comprises residents dedicated to giving back to the community by saving lives, volunteering their time and supervision and educating the next generation of heroes who keep swimmers safe.


Swimming for a Cure

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When Wendy Tarlow her partner, Claudia Patino Tarlow, welcomed their son Logan into the world in the spring of 2009, life was never more perfect for the Sag Harbor couple. A few months later, however, life would become all the more precious.

After battling with medical issues for the better part of three years, in July of 2009 Wendy was diagnosed with Follicular Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

“Everything went from being perfect — living in Sag Harbor, buying a house from my dad, being a mother, exactly where I had always wanted to be — to boom, cancer,” said Wendy.

So she began a slew of grueling treatments in an effort to beat her cancer, drawing on the support of her family including her young son during her battle.

“I don’t think I would have made it through the last three years without him,” said Wendy. “He is a constant source of strength.”

Wendy has also found strength in fighting for other cancer survivors — not only in a quest for a cure, but for less toxic treatments as well to fight the disease in its many facets.

An advocate and administrator of the Beautiful and Bald Barbie movement, which successfully lobbied for the creation of bald Bratz and Moxie Girl “True Hope” dolls as a source of inspiration for children with cancer, Wendy also became involved with the Sag Harbor not-for-profit, Fighting Chance. Founded by Duncan Darrow in 2002, Fighting Chance was the first free cancer counseling and resource center on the East End and it provided Wendy with support during her battle with cancer. Fighting Chance also proved to be a source of inspiration for the former fitness trainer with a knack for website development.

While at the not-for-profit, Wendy happened across a poster promoting the first “Hamptons Swim to Fight Cancer,” a Swim Across America event organized by the East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad.

Because Wendy was still reeling from treatment and unable to compete, Claudia quickly jumped at the opportunity to swim on her partner’s behalf and Team Tarlow was born.

“What is great about Swim Across America is it is the huge national organization with a number of events across the country and all of the money goes directly to research,” said Wendy.

The swim, which will be held this year on July 7 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. starting at Fresh Pond in Amagansett, offers swimmers the chance to compete in 3 mile, 1 mile and ½ mile courses. Swimmers fundraise by collecting pledges from residents and businesses and swimmers under age 18 must raise $300 to compete, while those over 19 are required to raise $500. Beneficiaries of the swim include Fighting Chance, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Children’s Hospital Montefiore, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Team Tarlow raised about $7,000 its first year, adding to an overall fundraising goal of close to $100,000. Team Tarlow continued to grow in 2011. This year, Wendy and fellow Sag Harbor resident Melissa Ann Mitchell built a website for the event as well as a fan page and have been marketing Swim Across America through social media sites like Facebook.

Team Tarlow has also evolved into Team Tarlow & Hand, with Sag Harbor native Thomas Hand throwing his support behind the group.

“Tommy and I grew up together,” said Wendy. “I was a summer person from across the street, but we were both diagnosed with cancer at the same time.”

While Hand lives in Florida, he frequently visits the East End and has dedicated himself to helping fundraise for the “Hamptons Swim to Fight Cancer,” said Wendy. “The weight of his support is palpable.”

Wendy is hoping this year she is strong enough to complete the swim herself, but knows if she is not she will have an army of friends, family and community members behind her.

“We have 45 swimmers on our team right now,” said Wendy. “Last year we had seven. I owe a large part of this to Tommy.”

The event has already raised $55,079 of a $125,000 goal, with Team Tarlow & Hand raising over $26,000 on their own. But for Wendy, there is no end in how large this fundraiser could become and certainly no end to the kind of critical cancer research it supports.

“What I love about this and why I am involved is because almost 100 percent of the money raised goes directly to cancer research and everyone involved is a volunteer,” said Wendy. “For me, this is looking for a drug that can save lives.”

Team Tarlow & Hand will host a fundraiser at B. Smith’s in Sag Harbor on June 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. For more information on the swim, to sign up, donate or volunteer, visit http://www.teamtarlowsaa.com.