Published On: Fri, Mar 13th, 2015

Thousands to attend 7th annual Boating and Beach Bash for People with Disabilities

South Florida’s annual Boating and Beach Bash for People with Disabilities (http://boatingbeachbash.com) will celebrate its 7th anniversary on Saturday, March 21, 2015 at Spanish River Park, 3100 North Ocean Blvd., in Boca Raton.

The Boating and Beach Bash is the largest, free funday in the nation for people of all ages with physical and/or intellectual challenges and their caregivers. Guests will enjoy a BBQ lunch, boat rides, all-day concert and numerous games and activities, including kite flying, finger painting, wheelchair yoga, dance classes, and much more.

Organized and run solely by volunteers, the Boating and Beach Bash is funded entirely through community donations. Professional rehab teams from area hospitals and universities will be on hand to oversee the event.

“Our mission is to provide the most overlooked sector of our community with a day that is free from prejudice, ridicule and exclusion. We want all of our guests to feel like they are welcome VIP’s. Our annual goal is to celebrate diversity, uniqueness and all those things that make everyone special in our eyes,” says Boating and Beach Bash Executive Director, Jay Van Vechten.

The Boating and Beach Bash dates back 20 years to when the City of Boca Raton passed a resolution to offer those with disabilities one day of free access to Spanish River Park, each March. The city’s Advisory Board for People with Disabilities then stepped up to host a small annual BBQ in the park on this day. For 14 years the BBQ continued, until the event was restricted to those with intellectual challenges living in group homes. Attendance was generally less than 100 people.

In 2008, Van Vechten approached the board with the idea to open up the event to all people with physical and/or intellectual challenges, along with their caregivers and families. He and Shawn Friedkin of Stand Among Friends recruited the support of the mayor and city manager of Boca Raton to expand the event into a full-day of activities and fun. The Boating and Beach Bash for People with Disabilities was born.

Since then, the annual event has grown in scope and attendance, from 350 guests to nearly 6,000 attendees in its 5th year. In 2009, a handful of private yachts were donated, providing attendees with free rides on the Intracoastal. Now, there are about two dozen yachts donated each year.

Today, the event is made possible through the generosity of hundreds of volunteers. From dawn to dusk, nearly 500 volunteers support the Boating and Beach Bash, including the Miami Dolphins, the Junior Navy ROTC Cadets from Boca High, FAU fraternities, church and synagogue groups, and the Junior League, among many other individuals, organizations, and associations.

The Boating and Beach Bash depends solely on the generosity of supporters, including: members of Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Publix, Office Depot Foundation, the Schmidt Family Foundation, the Harcourt M. and Virginia W. Sylvester Foundation, the Eugene M. and Christine E. Lynn Foundation, the US Coast Guard, Unicorn Children’s Foundation, students from all area schools and colleges, and dozens of other local businesses, individuals and foundations.

For more information on Boca Raton’s Boating and Beach Bash for People with Disabilities go to http://boatingbeachbash.com or follow the event on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/boatingbeachbash. To volunteer, sponsor or make a donation to the event, contact Jay Van Vechten at (561) 715-2622 or at jay@boatingbeachbash.com. Or at PO Box 99, Boca Raton, FL 33429

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