MarineMax Miami recently hosted the 3rd annual Kids in Boating Class to raise awareness for the AustinBlu Foundation; an organization devoted to making recreational boating and water sports safer.
"We are proud to have partnered with the AustinBlu Foundation to continue raising awareness about the importance of boating safety," said Christian Gonzalez, MarineMax Miami general manager in a press release. “A love of boating is often something instilled at a young age. To ensure that young boaters feel confident in their roles as honorary first mates, MarineMax offers Kids in Boating classes, specially designed to take a fun and educational approach to learning the rules of the water.”
MarineMax Miami partnered with the AustinBlu Foundation, as well as the Coast Guard Auxiliary (who brought along their Sammy the Sea Otter mascot), to host over 35 kids, ages 4 - 12, at their NE 79th Street location in Miami. The day of learning about boating and water safety wrapped up with a visit from a local ice cream truck.
The AustinBlu Foundation was formed in the wake of a tragedy involving Perry Cohen and Austin Blu Stephanos, two friends from Jupiter, Florida, who were lost at sea during a fishing trip on July 24th, 2015.
Officials say the pair took their 18-foot, single-engine fishing boat through the Jupiter Inlet and then navigated offshore in the Atlantic. A severe thunderstorm reached the area while they were out, and the teens never returned.
The foundation has worked to increase the awareness and availability of tools and technology that can help prevent near-shore and offshore boating accidents, as well as improve chances for survival and recovery if an incident does occur.
In addition to funding boating safety classes for over 1,000 students, the organization also worked to get a “Beacon Bill” passed in the Florida legislature, which it did unanimously. It offers Florida boat owners a discount on their vessel registration fee if they have a registered EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) on the vessel. The goal is to encourage the use of devices like EPIRBs and PLBs (personal locator beacon) which can help the Coast Guard locate boaters in distress.
“We choose to partner with the AustinBlu Foundation to help their mission,” continues MarineMax Miami's Gonzalez. “Austin Blu Stephanos’ story took place in our backyard in Jupiter. This was an unfortunate situation that we hope to prevent from happening in the future. Being able to give back to the community, while doing what we love is truly a blessing.”