Boat Rides for Disabled Seeking Donations

Jun 13, 2018
Photo by: Day on the Bay/Facebook

Since 2006, a summer tradition in Barnegat Township is the Day on the Bay, where adults and children with special needs enjoy free boat rides. But unlike other years where there have been two events, this year there will be just one, scheduled for Sunday, July 29, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Sherer’s Boat Basin, 482 East Bay Ave.

Walt Fernandez, event organizer, said at one point he was uncertain if there would be a Day on the Bay this year since his special needs son, Joe, has been battling cancer.

“The boat ride is a monumental event,” said Fernandez. “If my son Joe could speak, this is exactly what he would tell me: ‘Dad, do not cancel Day on the Bay, so many people do not get any other chance to take a ride on a boat, and they look forward to this day all year.’”

Fernandez said the idea for the event was spawned when he was a member of the recreation department disabilities board, which plans events for people with special needs.

“I realized so many special needs people had never been on or thought to be on a boat,” he said. “I thought to myself, how is this possible, you live near the Jersey Shore and never have been on a boat? So, I went home that day and thought. During the next several days I went to the local marinas and asked if they would be willing to rent me some boats. They looked at me funny and asked for what. When I told them what I had in mind, they said that they wanted to participate as well. Then I went to the town and I asked if they would insure us for the day, and they said yes once I again explained what I wanted to do.”

Fernandez is seeking people who can donate boats and fuel to give rides. Monetary donations are also accepted; checks can be made payable to: “Township of Barnegat” and with “Day on the Bay” written in the memo area. Then mail to Walt Fernandez, 31 Fifth St., Barnegat, N.J. 08005.

“With the money donations, we are able to have food, drinks, giveaway items, and we also send every rider home with a picture of themselves at Day on the Bay,” he said, “We now even have had a DJ for the past several years, and all the riders just love that. Not only do they get a boat ride, but they even get to dance or even sing while holding the microphone. The Barnegat police set up a station for those who want their picture taken, and then their info is put into the police database and the rider is given a laminated identity card with their picture on it.”

For more information, call Fernandez at 609-290-8741.

— Eric Englund

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