One Captain’s Legacy Is To Save People’s Lives Via One Free Life Jacket At A Time
In case you didn’t know about it, there’s a world’s largest life jacket loaner program, and it all began back in 2008 as a single like jacket loaner booth meant for boaters who needed to borrow any size preserver before they entered the water.
Incredibly, that single number has crossed an incredibly huge milestone recently, by setting up the 1,000thlocation for the program that provides free life jackets for borrowing on a beach in Clearwater, Florida.
The program, which is called the ‘Life Jacket Loaner’ program, now operates in loaner stations all across the 50 states, as well as Washington D.C., the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa, all because of one man who happens to be a Long Island, New York captain.
Captain Joe Frohnhoefer isn’t a stranger to water mishaps, and he’s seen his fair share of boating accidents and unfortunately, tragedies, that could have sadly been prevented. This is what pushed him to start the Sea Tow Foundation back in 2007 to not only provide proper education in safety in the water, but to provide people with the resources to help eliminate these unfortunate accidents.
In fact, on their website, their mission and promise reads “To provide access to education, tools, and resources to eliminate preventable boating accidents and deaths.”
One year later, he began the Life Jacket Loaner program in the hopes to prevent people drowning in the water by providing boaters free life jackets of any size which they can borrow and return at the end of their water journey.
Unfortunately, Capt. Frohnhoefer passed away in 2015, but thankfully, his legacy not only lives on through the efforts of his foundation, but his very own daughter Kristen is the president of the foundation’s board.
According to the group’s Executive Director, Gail Kulp, “Since 2008, we’ve distributed over 90,000 life jackets. We believe that financial struggles or lack of access to resources should never be an obstacle to safety.”
She also said, “It’s truly game-changing when someone puts on a life jacket,” according to Capt. Kahle, the Commander of US Coast Guard in St. Petersburg. “The statistics don’t lie—life jackets save lives.”
Meanwhile, Brian Rehwinkel of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, said, “This means an awful lot from an outreach and education standpoint. 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.”
If you have recently booked a trip and are in need of a lifesaver to borrow, you can take a look at the map of every loaner location here. According to the Foundation’s website, moreover, people can even donate life jackets if they want to.
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