Four months after the Coast Guard called off the search for two boys missing at sea, the family of one of the boys, Perry Cohen, has begun a nonprofit foundation in his name that will promote boat safety for young people interested in boating as well as offer scholarships. In a news release, the boy's family says the Perry J. Cohen Foundation will provide an annual scholarship program that will go to students who decide to get an education in Marine Science and Marine Wildlife.
"The mission of the foundation is to create awareness and education for all individuals around the safe enjoyment of recreational boating, fishing, and water sports," the news release says. "The goal of the foundation is to facilitate a deeper connection between America’s youth and proper boating safety standards."
Perry, along with his friend Austin Stephanos, both 14, were reported missing in July after they set out onto the Atlantic Ocean in a 19-foot boat. The boat they were on was found two days after they had set out, but the boys were not. The Coast Guard was alerted, and a massive search was conducted. Other boaters also joined in on the search, keeping tabs on social media and calling on anyone out in the water to keep a lookout for any sign of the boys.
The story of the two missing teen boys made national headlines. Some had criticized the families for allowing two teen boys out alone on a boat, which Perry's mom addressed on the Today Show.
"We live in a boating community," she said at the time. "They're on boats all the time, they're fishing all the time, they're on docks all the time." She likened their knowledge to kids who grow up on farms who hunt or drive tractors."
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After searching tens of thousands of miles for Perry and Austin, the Coast Guard called off the search, though the family and other volunteers kept an active search going.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, Perry's family sent out a news release on the launch of the new foundation, thanking the volunteers and the law enforcement agencies for their tireless work in searching for their son.
"During this holiday weekend and on behalf of our entire family, we want to thank the countless people, volunteers, private pilots, boaters and organizations like the USCG, Tequesta Police Department & Fire Department, US Navy, Jupiter Police Department, FWC and so many others that helped in the search and rescue efforts of our beloved son Perry and his dear friend," the Cohen family said in a statement. "It goes without saying that we continue to remain humbled by the millions of people that sent and continue to send us their thoughts and prayers during the darkest days we have ever encountered. For our dear friends, neighbors, community, business colleagues, and family members who continue to stand by us since day one — we are forever grateful for your compassion and love — and wish that you and your loved ones enjoyed this Thanksgiving Holiday and the upcoming holiday season. We are forever thankful for all of you."