Boca Resident Turns Passion Into Weekend Event

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Staff report

Boca Raton resident Sheri Daye has always been fascinated by the ocean.

The mechanical engineer for IBM spends her free time free diving, spearfishing and scuba diving.

“By trade, I am a mechanical engineer,” she said. “But my passion is diving.”

She said she has always been drawn to the ocean. From collecting shells when she was young to learning to scuba dive in high school and now spending time spearfishing and free diving, she loves to be in the water.

“Since I was little we would go to the beach,” she said. “I was fascinated by shells. To me it is better than finding gold.”

She took her love of water and created an exposition out of it 10 years ago. The idea for the Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo came to her after she took over as president of the board for Twin Palms Center in Boca, a facility for the disabled where her brother is a resident.

Looking at the financials, she said she knew she had to act quickly or the center would be shuttered.

“I was racking my brain on how to raise some money,” she said. “I thought of something to do with diving.”

She said she reached out to three industry experts and asked them to speak at her event, which ultimately was a fundraiser for the center.

“The event was very successful,” she said. “Everybody loved it so much, I did it another year. People ask for it.”

Now, the event is celebrating its 10th year. She said it has outgrown its spaces multiple times. Now, it is held over two days, April 22-23, at the Broward County Convention Center. It is also no longer solely a fundraiser for the center, she said.

“It turned into a business,” she said, adding she still gives proceeds from a raffle to charities including Twin Palms. “Every year it has grown. It has taken on a life of its own.”

This year, she said she expects people from all over the world to attend the event. Throughout both days, there will be seminars and workshops like how to filet fish properly and ways to eat lionfish. There will be displays from underwater photographers and videographers and all different aspects of marine activities.

“A lot of people love the ocean,” she said. “Whether you are a free diver or a scuba diver or you like paddle boarding or kayaking or marine art. There is a lot of crossover in marine sports.”

She said she got into spear fishing and free diving during a time when there weren’t many women participating in the sport.

“I broke 22 world records without even trying that hard because there weren’t that many women into it,” she said. “I have seen the sport evolve a lot. There is a lot of growth in the sport right now especially with young people because they like a challenge. The whole movement has contributed to the growth and excitement of the expo.”

in high school i started scuba diving.the marine life attracted me enough to make me want to get certified. i did scuba diving. i got interested in technical diving. decompression diving. then i got interested in free diving and spear fishing.

Entry is $20 at the door. For more information on the event, visit http://www.thebluewild.com