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Sea Tow Foundation collaborates with Onyx/Absolute Outdoor to protect boaters' lives

by Sea Tow Foundation 11 May 2023 09:57 PDT
Life jackets © Sea Tow Foundation

The Sea Tow Foundation's Life Jacket Loaner Program is the largest of its kind in the world, operating more than 1,300 stands throughout the country at boat ramps, marinas, parks, and other locations where boaters have easy access to borrow the life jackets.

The Foundation's primary objective is to prevent drowning by providing life jackets, ranging from infant to adult extra-large, that boaters can borrow and return free of charge.

This year marks the 15th anniversary that the Sea Tow Foundation has received grant funding from the Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund, as administered by the US Coast Guard to support their Life Jacket Loaner Program. This year, that funding allowed the Sea Tow Foundation to purchase more than 5,600 life jackets from Onyx/Absolute Outdoor.

Every year, the Sea Tow Foundation opens a new grant application cycle, allowing marine businesses, communities, and organizations to request Life Jacket Loaner Station building kits and/or life jackets. In the 2023 application cycle, a record-breaking 258 applications were submitted requesting a total of 20,852 life jackets. The quantity of life jackets that the Sea Tow Foundation can award through donations and grant funding was a quarter of that, and the Sea Tow Foundation purchases the life jackets from Onyx/Absolute Outdoor nearly a year in advance of their use so that there is time to have them manufactured, custom-printed, and shipped. After reviewing the applications, 140 groups were selected to receive life jackets from the Sea Tow Foundation. Additionally, 50 grant-funded Life Jacket Loaner Stand building kits will be sent out.

"Unfortunately, not every group that applied will be able to receive life jackets from the Sea Tow Foundation this year," said Gail R. Kulp, Executive Director of the Sea Tow Foundation. "It was a difficult decision-making process and we looked for applications indicating a strong need for life jackets due to previous drownings in the area, large numbers of boating activities in the area, lack of loaner stations in the region for new applicants, and the need for replenishment for existing loaner stations."

Due to the immense volume of applications for their nationwide Life Jacket Loaner Program, the Sea Tow Foundation asked the boating industry to donate new or gently-used life jackets to meet the demands and safeguard the lives of boaters. In response, Onyx/Absolute Outdoor graciously donated 447 brand-new life jackets that will make their way to 15 groups that host Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Stations across 13 states.

"We are honored to support the Sea Tow Foundation in its mission to eliminate drowning related to boating," said Len Nelson, Onyx/Absolute Outdoor's Director of Sales. "Everyone deserves to feel safe while enjoying a fun day on the water and we've been proud to work with the Sea Tow Foundation to supply the life jackets for their loaner program for the last seven years. When we saw the overwhelming requests from their applicants, we were glad to be able to donate 447 life jackets to ensure that more people across the country can borrow them."

Kulp added, "We are so grateful to companies like Onyx/Absolute Outdoor who have answered our call to help meet this overwhelming demand through their generous donation. Knowing that 15 more groups will be able to receive life jackets because of their donation means that even more lives can be saved this summer."

Learn more about the Sea Tow Foundation at www.boatingsafety.com.

Do you want to donate new or gently used life jackets? Learn more here.

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