By Shannon Pease
The Best Day Foundation Beach Event is all about creating special days by the sea for special kids.
The fun-filled weekend, taking place April 21 and 22 on Pompano Beach, will include beach games and water activities for about 80 pre-registered participants. The goal of the Best Day Florida chapter is to create a fun and safe ocean experience for children with a variety of physical and developmental challenges.
The program serves those with Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, blindness, cancer, spinal cord injuries and other special needs. Children, some who seldom get to wade in the ocean, will be assisted by buddies and a water team so they can participate in adventure activities like surfing, boogie boarding and more.
“That’s one of my favorite things about Best Day,” said Florida Best Day chairperson Jaime Vanacore. “Our goal is to create an opportunity for everyone to go the beach and experience the thrill of riding a wave. Many of our participants have disabilities that prevent them from easily getting to the beach and some from ever getting in the ocean. We have some of the best and strongest water team volunteers that can safely allow everyone to get the full experience of a beach day.”
The event is geared toward those ages 4 and up, and families can sign up for either the Saturday or Sunday program. The day begins with stretching exercises led by superheroes, and closes with princesses handing out medals.
About 100 volunteers assist each day to make the event a success. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities including Beach Buddies who are paired with a participant, Water Teams, and Administration and Event support. Pre-registration is required for volunteers and for families who would like to participate.
“Best Day wants to create events where everyone can participate and walk away feeling great, volunteers and participants,” Vanacore said.
Best Day Foundation is a national, volunteer organization that helps children with special needs build confidence and self-esteem through a variety of activities. The organization serves over 1,000 kids with special needs each year and has more than 5,000 volunteers throughout the country.
Vanacore and her husband founded the Florida Best Day Chapter in 2014. Both active duty Coast Guard, they became involved while stationed in New Jersey. After transferring to South Florida in 2014, they founded the local chapter. Vanacore sums up the event as “truly amazing.”
To learn more about the Best Day Foundation, or to volunteer or register for the April event visit www.bestdayfoundation.org.