What began in 2008 as a single life jacket loaner booth for boaters to borrow any size preserver before going on the water, has now turned into the world’s largest life jacket loaner program.
And, they crossed a huge milestone last month, setting up location number 1,000 at the beach in Clearwater, Florida.
The program now operates loaner stations in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands—all thanks to a Long Island, New York captain.
Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer kept seeing boating accidents and tragedies that could have been prevented, so he decided to start the nonprofit Sea Tow Foundation in 2007 to provide the education and resources to eliminate them.
He started the Life Jacket Loaner program the following year to prevent drowning by providing free life jackets that boaters of any size can borrow and return at the end of their outing.
The lifelong seafaring New Yorker passed away in 2015, but his legacy lives on through the efforts of the foundation and his daughter Kristen, who is now president of the board.
“Since 2008, we’ve distributed over 90,000 life jackets,” said Gail Kulp, the group’s Executive Director.
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