Jay Van Vechten
Jay is a recognized international authority whose career has spanned four decades and 34 nations. He was one of the founding members of the Public Relations Global Network (aka: PRGN), an international networking organization of leading, independent public relations agencies. Jay resides in Boca Raton, FL, where he serves as Chairman for the City of Boca Raton’s Advisory Board for People with Disabilities.
In that capacity, Van Vechten created the first annual, Boca Raton-based Boating & Beach Bash for People with Disabilities in 2009. The event was designed to be a free, celebration of diversity in South Florida. In its first year, it drew 350 people with physical and intellectual challenges for a daylong picnic in the park complete with live entertainment and boat rides on the Intracoastal Waterway.
By 2013, the ‘Bash’ drew 5,500 registered guests and 500 volunteers. Thirty yachts, donated for the day by their owners, offered 2,000 boat rides. Over 6,000 barbeque lunches were served while live, nonstop entertainment rocked the park. Dubbed by the media as the “Miracle on the Intracoastal”, the event serves as a model program for community awareness and solidarity.
Van Vechten first entered the national disability arena in 1995, when his firm was retained by Johnson & Johnson to launch Independence Technology and its array of cutting-edge, assistive-technology devices. As the national spokesperson for the company, Jay generated over $10 million in global publicity coverage, including segments on Dateline NBC, the Today show, 60 Minutes, the ESPY Awards, Oprah and dozens more.
Jay joined the ranks of people with disabilities after he was injured in an accident in 2001. That same year he helped create Avis Access for Avis Rent a Car, providing a service in over 80 airport locations across the nation that would rapidly convert any car on the Avis lot to an accessible vehicle.
In Palm Beach County Jay has served as advisor for the Unicorn Children’s Foundation for children who suffer from autism and other learning disabilities as well as Shake A Leg Miami, the nation’s foremost sailing and water sports facility for people with special needs. In 2011, he helped launch a benefit for Stand Among Friends at Florida Atlantic University. While on the national stage, Jay was named to the National Advisory Board for VeteransAid Foundation in November of 2012. VeteransAid is chaired by Admiral Mike Mullen, (Ret), Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Jay was honored with a Presidential Citation for his work for the American Dental Association, in educating America about AIDS and the transmittal of the HIV virus. He was also honored by the American Marketing Association with the Edison AMA Award for the Best Marketing Campaign of the Year for his work on behalf of his client the Arthritis Foundation of America and Tylenol Brand Pain Relievers.
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