Over 5,000 Attend 9th Annual Boating and Beach Bash
By: Michael Demyan
The ninth annual Boating and Beach Bash for People with Disabilities was held on Saturday, March 18, which attracted over 5,000 people and 400 volunteers.
The American Disabilities Foundation sponsored event was founded by Jay Van Vechten and is now known as the largest free event for those with special needs. The Bash kicked off at 10 a.m. at Spanish River Park in Boca Raton and lasted until 3 p.m. Fun festivities included music, games, food and boat rides.
“For most attendees, it is the one event where they can fully relax and not be judged or stared at for their differences,” Van Vechten said.
Musical entertainment kicked off with the national anthem by Chloe Dolandis. Following her was a performance of “We are the World” by Mason Pace with the help of children from the Miracle Network of Delray Beach. Other performances included local singer Tori Lynn and Broadway star Andrea McArdle, who sang the classic song “Tomorrow” from “Annie.”
One of the most popular activities were the boat rides on the Intracoastal Waterway. Many of the yachts were provided by members of the Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club. The U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary were in attendance to help everyone on and off the boats with assistance from physical therapists and physical therapy students.
Along with the traditional boat rides on the intracoastal, guests were also able to enjoy a ride on the Catabella Express. The multicolored miniature train, which is wheelchair accessible, was provided thanks to Mark’s Medical Mobility.
Ronald McDonald was in attendance at the event along with Dazzle the clown. Dazzle entertained the children with her humorous personality and face painting, putting a smile on many faces throughout the day. Costume World of Deerfield Beach also provided costumes for superheroes and princesses who walked the grounds taking photos and having fun with enthusiastic attendees.
The Bash’s medical director, Dr. Albert Dabbah, is happy to see what the event can do for those who live restricted lives.
“Most have never been for a boat ride until they attend their first Bash gathering,” Dr. Dabbah said. “Many undoubtedly never got to enjoy a relaxing picnic in the park with their loved ones until they came to this event. It really is heartwarming to observe.”
In addition to the fun activities, the Boating and Beach Bash also featured a wellness center tent which had medical professionals who people could speak with as well as free non-invasive medical testing.
The hundreds of volunteers provided a huge help to make the Bash another success, as they all helped in various ways from planning to assisting those in attendance. Their continued support, along with the assistance of many sponsors, are some of the many reasons the Bash continues to grow every year.
Now with this year’s event completed, Van Vechten and the volunteers will look toward putting together the 10th annual Bash, which will take place next March.