The 4th annual Boating & Beach Bash for People with Disabilities (www.boatingbeachbash.com), Boca Raton’s yearly celebration of diversity, is taking shape for Saturday, March 24, from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, at Spanish River Park, on A1A, in Boca Raton, FL. The Bash is the largest free, fun-day in the United States, for people with physical and/or intellectual challenges.
The event is expected to attract upwards of 3000 adults and children, as well as South Florida recipients of the Purple Heart, veterans disabled during service to the nation. Each year the full range of cross disabilities represented at the Bash include autism, paraplegia, Down Syndrome, MS, vision loss and hearing impairment among others. Caregivers are also included in the day’s activities.
For Wendy Friswell, director of Boca Raton’s Twin Palms Center for the Disabled, this is an event where the center’s special needs population feels as if they’re part of something much larger than themselves. “They feel engaged, accepted and celebrated for who they are as individuals and group participants. They have such a good time,” she adds, “It brings joy to my heart and to theirs. “
Animal Planet’s Gator Boys, Kids’ Fun Zone, Hot BBQ Lunch, Boat Rides and Much More
According to event organizers, features at this year’s Bash include an appearance by Animal Planet’s GATOR BOYS, Paul Bedard and Jimmy Riffle. The popular TV duo will be bringing baby alligators for the enjoyment of attendees. There will also be a new Kids’ Fun-Zone with multiple interactive amusements – including arts and crafts – sponsored by the Boca Raton Children’s museum, several musical and singing groups, more boats than ever, and a complete BBQ lunch with all the trimmings. “We’ll even have therapy ponies and service dogs for people to interact with and enjoy,” says Jay Van Vechten, Bash Founder and Co-Director. “Additionally,” he adds, “a multi-tented display zone in the park will house local, regional and national foundations and organizations that offer valuable information about community resources for people with disabilities and their families.” Previous exhibitors have included Shake a Leg Miami, Stand Among Friends, Surfers for Autism, and Unicorn Children’s Foundation.
Boca Raton’s Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club is Cornerstone of Bash with Yachts and Donations
Since its launch four years ago, the Boating & Beach Bash for People with Disabilities has more than doubled in size annually, growing from 350 participants and seven private motor boats in 2009, to more than 2,000 attendees and 25 boats in 2011. To accomplish this, a hundred plus area residents, from Dade to Martin Counties, come together to organize and run the Bash. The team effort underscores the fact that every aspect of the Bash is driven by local volunteers and private donations.
Bash Co-Director, Zack Rice, who is also Marina Manager at Boca Raton’s Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club, remains one of the principal volunteers behind the success of the event. Rice lines up boat owners, raises funds and brings in the vendors who supply lunch and refreshments for all participants.
“The heart of this event centers on boat rides,” says say Scott Eckhart, Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club’s Commodore. “As a result the Bash is frequently been called, the ‘Miracle on the Intracoastal.’ The Bash really is a miracle,” he adds. “The opportunity to help people who deal with unimaginable challenges is reallya gift for those of us behind this very unique and personal celebration of diversity.”
RPY&CC General Manager Bob Green says that he and Eckhart share mutual pride in the generosity and spirit of the club’s membership and employees, who work together each year to make a difference in the lives of so many overlooked residents of the community. “We’re very proud of all of them,” he adds.
Bash Still Welcoming Additional Exhibitors and Sponsors for 2012
Bash organizers are still welcoming additional exhibitors and sponsors, along with tax deductable contributions for the 2012 event. Donations should be made payable to the Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation – Bash, a 501c3 registered nonprofit organization. Mail checks to Boating & Beach Bash, PO Box 99, Boca Raton, and FL 33429. Donations can also be made via PayPal on the event’s web site http://www.boatingbeachbash.com. The site also offers the latest information about the 2012 Bash and provides a link to download exhibitor information. Exhibitors and sponsors requiring further information should contact the Bash office directly at 561-715-2622.
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