More Than $720,000 Was Raised for Water Safety & Drowning Prevention During YMCA of South Florida’s Beach Ball 2023

Britt Jackson, Dr. Rhonda Milner, YMCA of South Florida CEO Sheryl A. Woods, Dusty Milner. Photo Courtesy of YMCA of South Florida

Close to 600 business and community leaders were on hand for the YMCA of South Florida’s Beach Ball 2023, presented by Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, held recently at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, a Titanium Sponsor for the event.

The YMCA of South Florida’s signature fundraiser, this year’s Beach Ball raised more than $720,000 to benefit the Y’s Aquatic Financial Assistance program, which provides free swim lessons and water safety instruction in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties for at-risk children, teens, families, caregivers and children with special needs who are part of the Y’s Swim Buddies program. It also includes the Y’s Mobile Aquatics program, the distribution of water watcher tags to encourage adult supervision as well as other components that help to expand the reach of water safety instruction in the community and emphasize its importance.

The Y has been dedicated to promoting water safety for more than 100 years. Since 2016, funds generated from the Y’s annual Beach Ball Gala have made it possible to provide swim lessons and water safety education to more than 150,000 children in local communities.

Brown & Brown Insurance Miami-Dade was presented with the YMCA of South Florida’s Life Saver Award, which is presented annually to a community member or organization that exemplifies the spirit of commitment to drowning prevention, providing significant support to the cause.

“Through the tremendous support that we receive at events such as our Beach Ball, tens of thousands of South Floridians are able to reap the benefits of quality water safety instruction and drowning prevention lessons each year,” said YMCA of South Florida President and CEO Sheryl A. Woods. “These life skills are so important for children of all ages and their parents. The funds we raise at Beach Ball enable us to teach those skills and have a life-changing impact on our community. Brown & Brown is dedicated to finding solutions to our community’s most critical needs, and their efforts in drowning prevention have allowed us to attain our goals.”

During Beach Ball 2023, themed “Rock with Us!,” guests were treated to a magical evening with both live and silent auctions, as well as a night filled with dancing and live musical entertainment, highlighted by a remote performance by the grandfather of hip hop, Grandmaster Flash, thanks to the Y’s friends at Winterfest. With formal swim lessons reducing the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%, this event and the funds raised as a result take on added significance.

“The YMCA’s mission to nurture the potential of every child aligns seamlessly with our commitment to children’s health and well-being,” said Dr. Jennifer McCafferty-Fernandez, Beach Ball chair and Senior Vice President of External & Experience and Chief of Staff to the CEO at Nicklaus Children’s Health System, the event’s Presenting Sponsor. “We are extremely proud to join the Y in helping to provide what is a basic component of a child’s development. Together, we believe in giving every child the opportunity to thrive and stay safe, and the Beach Ball helps to achieve that goal.”

In addition to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Beach Ball 2023 was proudly supported by Brown & Brown Insurance Miami-Dade, Bacardi USA, Delta Air Lines, Miami Heat Charitable Fund, Publix Super Markets Charities, Related Group and Milner Inc., among many others.

To learn more about the YMCA of South Florida and its drowning prevention initiatives, visit