Nearly 400 guests from throughout South Florida gathered at the Intercontinental Miami to raise funds for water safety education and drowning prevention programs during the YMCA Beach Ball 2022, presented by Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. This was the YMCA of South Florida’s first in-person fundraising event since the pandemic. More than $630,000 was raised for the YMCA’s Aquatic Financial Assistance Program, which provides swim lessons and water safety instruction to at-risk children in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. With child drownings in Florida up by 44% last year, the most since 2009, and with Florida leading the country in child drownings of all ages, particularly in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, there is heightened need for awareness and water safety. “It was incredibly inspiring to see so many in our community come out and support us after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic,” said YMCA of South Florida President and CEO Sheryl A. Woods. “I think everyone in the room was touched by the stories they heard. Awareness brings action and that’s what we are here for at the Y. Our goal is to improve the community’s health and well-being by providing meaningful and impactful programs.” The YMCA Beach Ball 2022 host committee included co-chairs Marilyn Pascual Caraballo and Ronald Caraballo, Arlene and Conrad Coke, Caridad and Alvaro Errazquin, Isabelle Fernandez, Niki Hinesley, Katherine Kessler, Derek Koger, Ana Nguyen and Michelle Young. In addition to presenting sponsor Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, this year’s Beach Ball sponsors also included Brown & Brown Insurance Miami-Dade, Delta Air Lines, Publix Super Markets Charities, Bacardi, Related, Red Dot Miami/Spectrum Miami Art Fair, and others.For more than 100 years, the Y has been dedicated to teaching swim lessons because formal swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%. During the year, 11,000 children and adults are taught drowning prevention and water safety techniques at the YMCA of South Florida. In total, 64% of African American, 45% of Hispanic/Latino and 40% of Caucasian children have little to no swimming ability, and for every child who loses their life to drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.