Published On: Thu, Jan 23rd, 2020

What’s New at the 12th Annual Boating & Beach Bash for People with Disabilities?

Nation’s Largest, FREE, One-Day Event for People with Disabilities–Both Seen and Unseen– Returns to Boca Raton on Sunday, March 1, 2020; NEW Amenities, Entertainment and Boats

Boca Raton, FL – What’s new for the 12th Annual Boating & Beach Bash for People with Disabilities?

On Sunday, March 1, 2020,  the nation’s largest, FREE, one-day event for people with disabilities, both seen and unseen, will welcome more than 6,000 guests to Spanish River Park and offer the following new features:

Additional pontoon boats and transportation: In addition to the fleet of yachts and boats, manned by volunteer captains, the Freedom Boat Club will provide extra pontoon boats for the 2020 Bash. One of the biggest draws, the boat rides along the Intracoastal Waterway are offered the entire length of the event, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

“These pontoon boats are a huge game changer in our efforts to get as many people with disabilities as possible out onto the water,” said Bash Co-Founder Jay Van Vechten. “Boarding and disembarking will be greatly eased for those with mobility challenges. It will cut down on dock turnaround time, it will allow more people to get on each boat, and it promises to make Captain Tyler’s job a bit easier, as he directs all operations that day. We’re blessed indeed to be partnering with such kind people.”  

A trolley shuttle and a second Catabello Express mini-train – which is ADA-accessible – will be added to assist guests from the parking lot to the Bash area. The trolley and Express mini-train will run continuously during the entire duration of the event until 3:30 p.m. 

Kellye Cash: Cash is a former Miss America and niece of country superstar Johnny Cash. Known for her extraordinary singing voice and bigger than life personality, Cash will perform the National Anthem and assist with hosting the Bash’s activities.

“I’m honored to be part of the Boating and Beach Bash, having raised a child with a disability. My oldest child, Brady, is hearing-impaired. He is now a 28-year-old electrical engineer, who played college basketball, had leads in almost every one of his high school musicals and sings in my concerts,” Cash said. “I know the challenges that come with disabilities and helping turn them into abilities.”  

New amenities for guests on the autism spectrum:  With a $3,500 grant from Autism Speaks, South Florida chapter, the Bash will add amenities to be more accessible to those on the autism spectrum (ASD). Amenities will include “Quiet Comfort/Break” zones and free “comfort supplies,” such as ear plugs, sensory toys and sunglasses for guests. The grant will also allow for the purchase of developmental play items and crafts for the Bash’s Kids Zone.  

“We estimate that more than 40 percent of our festival guests and program participants are autistic or families of someone on the autism spectrum,” said Van Vechten. “We are looking forward to adding elements and giveaways that will allow our guests to better enjoy the festival.”

Returning favorites: Coming back for her third year will be singer Kechi Okwuchi, a Nigerian-American singer and motivational speaker. She was one of two survivors of the 107 passengers aboard Sosoliso Airlines Flight 1145, which crashed in Nigeria in 2005. Kechi suffered severe third-degree burns all over her body. To date, she has endured more than 100 surgeries. A finalist on the 12th season of America’s Got Talent in 2017, and in the 2019 AGT’s Champions rendition, Okwuchi headlined the Bash in 2018 and 2019. 

Also returning for 2020 is Rion Paige, a finalist on the X Factor. A Jacksonville, FL native, who now lives in Nashville, TN, Paige was born with a rare condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, which caused permanent damage to her arms, resulting in her hands being in a fixed, bent position. A country-and-western musician, Paige was mentored on the X Factor by Demi Lovato.

About The Boating & Beach Bash For People With Disabilities:

The Bash was started in 2009 as an event hosted by the City of Boca Raton Advisory Board for People with Disabilities.  The City relinquished the Bash in 2011 to the management of Executive Director Jay Van Vechten and his wife, Lowell. Since then, through community support and donations, the couple and the Bash’s planning committee have pushed the event’s growth beyond wildest expectations. Welcoming nearly 6,000  guests in 2019, the Bash has become the largest, free, wholly disability-friendly event in the country with a full schedule of national and local entertainment, recreation, boat rides, beach access, vendors, exhibitions, workshops and food in the nation. It has also become a Spring Break destination event in South Florida, drawing families from as far away as California and New York. 

Learn more at

IF YOU GO:  12th Annual Boating & Beach Bash for People with Disabilities

Sunday, March 1, 2020

+ 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

+ Spanish River Park, 3001 North Ocean Blvd. (A1A), Boca Raton, FL 33431

+; 561-715-2622

+ National singing acts Kechi Okwuchi and Rion Paige – both performers with physical disabilities –  will headline the 12th Annual Boating & Beach Bash for People with Disabilities, along with Kellye Cash, a country singer and former Miss America. The Bash, which is free, is the nation’s largest festival for people with special needs – both seen and unseen – their family members and caregivers. Festivities include boat rides, beach access, sporting events, ponies for petting, costumed action heroes, local entertainment, wheelchair yoga, miniature train rides, a Kids Fun Zone, food, music, a vendors’ row, and dance parties. 

About the Author

Discover more from The Boca Raton Tribune

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading