The Sea Tow Foundation, with support from MarineMax and Sea Tow International, held a ribbon cutting ceremony today for the opening of its 1,000th Life Jacket Loaner Stand at the Seminole Street Boat Ramp in Clearwater, FL.
The Sea Tow Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Program started in 2008 with a single location where boaters could borrow and return life jackets for a safe day on the water. Thanks to grant funding from the Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund as administered by the U.S. Coast Guard as well as corporate sponsors and individual donors, the program has since grown to be the largest life jacket loaner program in the world, with loaner stations in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., American Samoa and the Virgin Islands.
“This 1,000th Life Jacket Loaner Station marked a big milestone not only for the Sea Tow Foundation, but for boating safety across the country as a whole,” says Gail R. Kulp, Executive Director of the Sea Tow Foundation. “Since 2008, we’ve distributed over 90,000 life jackets, and we can’t wait to celebrate many more milestones in the future as the program continues to grow, ensuring people can make safe, fun and lasting memories on the water for years to come.”
The 1,000th Life Jacket Loaner Stand ceremony featured the following speakers: Capt. Michael Kahle, Commander of US Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg; Capt. Matt Dallarosa, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission; Brian Rehwinkel, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission; Charlie Justice, Pinellas County Commissioner Chair; Peg Phillips, National Safe Boating Council; Collin Heimensen, MarineMax Clearwater; and Kristen Frohnhoefer, Sea Tow Services International. Rick Johnson, Vice-Commander of the USCG Auxiliary Flotilla 11-1; Peter Losi, Commander of the Clearwater Power Squadron; Mike MacDonald, City of Clearwater; Paul Joyce, Venice Marine Police; Nic Thomas, Freedom Boat Club; Capt. Patrick Lamb, Sea Tow Clearwater/Port Richey; Capt. Craig Marcum and Capt. Cameron Marcum, Sea Tow Venice; and Capt Kerry Kline, Sea Tow Central Florida Lakes and Sea Tow Foundation board member also attended the event to show their support for boating safety in the Florida community.
“It’s truly game changing when someone puts on a life jacket,” said Capt. Kahle, Commander of US Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “The statistics don’t lie. Life jackets save lives.”
“This means an awful lot from an outreach and education standpoint,” said Brian Rehwinkel, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. “If you don’t have a life jacket, you can’t wear one. With this program there’s no reason for someone to go out on the water without one.”
To celebrate this milestone, MarineMax is matching donations made to the Sea Tow Foundation up to $5,000 from September 23-30.
“We are thrilled to show our support for the Sea Tow Foundation as they open their 1,000th Life Jacket Loaner Stand today and we’re so proud to be matching public donations made to the Sea Tow Foundation through September 30,” says Collin Heimensen, General Manager of MarineMax Clearwater. “Our company is rooted in creating family memories centered around the water and we know that starts with ensuring everyone has a safe experience on the water.”