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Boatloads of Fun for NJ Special Needs Kids [VIDEO/AUDIO]

Sick children and their families get a special day to take their minds off their troubles and just have exhilarating fun at the Jersey Shore. That’s the goal of the 14th annual Shore Dreams for Kids, organized by the New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club.

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Shore Dreams for Kids
Tim Sharkey, Sharkey Images in Brick

Shore Dreams for Kids director Dave Patnaude said this year’s event, on Saturday, July 12 in Seaside Heights, will feature a barbecue, boardwalk games, bouncy rides and a band that’s free for participants. He said event workers will also take kids to the Seaside Municipal Docks for a boat ride out on the Barnegat Bay, which he calls the pinnacle of the event.

“For them to be able to be lifted out of their wheelchairs, along with their IVs, carried into a powerboat, they go out for a quick ride — it’s something that they never even thought would be possible,” Patnaude said.

Shore Dreams for Kids was founded in 2002, but Patnaude said the concept originated in 1976 when two powerboat racers, whose children had special needs, began hosting the children’s classmates for backyard barbecues and boat rides. Their efforts led to the creation of “A Day on the Bay,” which ran from 1980 to 2000. When the organizers retired, the Performance Powerboat Club received permission to take the event over, and established the nonprofit Shore Dreams.

Shore Dreams for Kids
Tim Sharkey, Sharkey Images in Brick

Organizers are expecting over 1,000 participants, invited from groups such as Special Olympics, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Children’s Specialized Hospital, Children with Cancer, Autism Speaks and the LADACIN Network. They also said families who have special needs children who are not connected to any of these groups are welcome to attend, and can register at

Like many nonprofits, however, Shore Dreams For Kids is having its challenges raising money for the massive undertaking.

So, they’re hoping to raise the bulk of the funding at their “Casino Night” fundraiser on May 9, at the Crystal Point Yacht Club in Point Pleasant from 7 to 9 p.m.

“This is one of the few organizations that someone can donate money to and you can actually come the day of the event, and see how your money helps bring happiness to all these people,” Patnaude said.

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