South Florida’s Annual Boating and Beach Bash for People with Disabilities (www.boatingbeachbash.com) is the largest, free, fun-day in the United States for people with physical and/or intellectual challenges and their caregivers. It is held each March in the tropical setting of Boca Raton, Florida’s beautiful Spanish River Park. The highlight of the event is the opportunity to enjoy a boat ride aboard a flotilla of private yachts along the famed Intracoastal Waterway. All boats are donated by members of Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club in Boca Raton. The Bash is completely organized and run by community volunteers and is funded through private donations.
The Boating and Beach Bash was conceived in 2008 by members of the City of Boca Raton Advisory Board for People with Disabilities. The event was created as a unique, fun way to salute people with disabilities and their caregivers by celebrating diversity in South Florida. Just consider:
• 20% of all Americans have a disability.
• That number soars to one in four, or 25% of all men, women and children living in Palm Beach County.
• 50% + of Americans are touched by disabilities within their families or among friends and colleagues.
The first Bash in March of 2009 attracted over 350+ participants, along with seven yachts offering rides to all attendees. A BBQ lunch was served. A band, featuring musicians with disabilities, rocked the park. All other services were volunteered and donated.
The second Bash in March of 2010 attracted 700+ participants, virtually doubling in size from 2009. The event was enhanced by numerous volunteers from the Coast Guard, Boca High School’s Junior Navy ROTC students and from the private sector. A dozen yachts participated.
The third Bash in March 20, 2011 attracted 2,000+ guests and was the largest, free, fun-day ever staged in the United States for people with disabilities, their families and caregivers. Called “The Miracle on the Intracoastal,” by the media, the 2011 Bash featured 25 yachts and over 100 volunteers from the public and private sector. An exhibitor zone with 25 leading nonprofit organizations was added and the Bash gained visibility throughout Florida, nationally and internationally.
The fourth Bash, scheduled for March 24, 2012, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM, will also salute Purple Heart recipients through an association with the Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation, a 501c3 organization (www.wwiaf.org). This opening of hearts to veterans with disabilities further enhances the Bash’s growing circle of recognition and celebration of diversity in our community. The 2012 Bash, no longer a City-sponsored event, offers unmatched sponsorship opportunities for companies and individuals.