Yacht Club Makes Wishes Come True

NORTHPORT, New York, August 7

BY: Andrew Wroblewski

Even though he’s organized the Northport Yacht Club’s annual swim-a-thon and youth regatta for the last eight years, Bob Doherty saw something come out of the event this year that he’s never seen before.

That something is a dollar amount: $46,000.

Sailors in the annual Northport Yacht Club youth regatta attempt to round a mark in one of Friday’s three races. (Photo by Danielle Garrison)
Sailors in the annual Northport Yacht Club youth regatta attempt to round a mark in one of Friday’s three races. (Photo by Danielle Garrison)

“It’s the most money we’ve ever raised for the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” Doherty, 55, said. “Make-A-Wish is special to me. I’m a retired fireman and, as a member of the yacht club, I get to see kids all the time there swimming and sailing with smiles and laughs. I’ve come to realize that the Make-A-Wish kids don’t get to have those kinds of summers and that’s what motivates me.”

Starting with the swim-a-thon on July 31, Doherty said nearly 100 kids, ages 7-17, took to the pool of the yacht club and swam a collective 35,050 laps – or “about 50 miles.” The kids weren’t raising money per lap that they swam though, Doherty said. Instead, money was raised beforehand through various fundraising ventures or by gathering sponsors that pledged donations.

“They just do a good job out there,” Doherty said of the swimmers, who swam for about three hours. “In first with 202 laps was Gabrielle Garra [age 10], second was my daughter, Keara [16], with 201 laps and in third was Johnny Bravo [13] who swam 200 laps.”

Doherty’s daughter and Bravo were this year’s two highest contributing fundraisers with the duo respectively contributing totals of $9,020 and $4,800 this year.

Following up on Friday, 90 junior sailors and 70 boats took to Northport Harbor where they participated in three different races – separated by age, experience and type of boat they sailed. As with the swim-a-thon, sailors in the races had raised money beforehand and sailed just for the fun of it all.

“It was a great day for sailing because the wind started out slow in the beginning, but through the day it got stronger,” Doherty, of Northport, said. “The sailors were able to start off slow and then by the end of the day the wind pushed them to go faster… It’s a very kid-friendly event.”

Along with slowly easing the kids into the ventures of sailing, Doherty said participants were welcomed to a DJ, pool party and barbecue at the end of the day that made the event quite a hit amongst the youngsters.

That and the smorgasbord of prizes awarded to event’s top 25 donators, of course.

“The kid that raised the most money gets to choose a prize first,” Doherty said.

The prizes, anonymously donated, ranged from paddle boards and kayaks to Yankee and Jones Beach Theater tickets.

“You know, it’s really worked over the years. Each year the prizes have been getting better and better and the kids have been raising more and more money,” the organizer said.

Funds raised this year – about $8,000 more than last year – will be able to help Make-A-Wish grant the wishes of six children in the foundation, Doherty said. In its entire 19-year run, the Northport Yacht Club has raised close to $500,000 for the foundation, and Doherty said he has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

Originally published: Long Islander News: The Record (Thursday, August 7, 2014;  A11)

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