Explore the Magical Underwater World with Adaptive Scuba Diving
By Helen Armstrong, Dive Pirates
It all started when three women sitting around the table after a great day of diving started talking about their new certifications as adaptive scuba instructors. Who can we teach? Who would be interested? As the news of the conflict in the Middle East filled the airways almost daily, the answer came easily. Let's give back to those who defend us and others in need with something we can do. Let's give them back some fun and freedom the water gives all of us!
For the past 15 years, the Dive Pirates Foundation continues to share the accessibility of the underwater world through adaptive scuba diving with those men and women who—by accident, disease or military conflict—experienced a life-altering change in their mobility.
Adaptive Diving Provides Revitalizing Experience for People with Disabilities
The group started with a simple concept: provide a complete system of equipment and training for a recipient as well as a great first open water experience. With all the necessary tools for success under their belt, we hoped the new diver would continue to dive and enjoy the recreational sport for years to come.
What started with fundraising t-shirts has now grown into the Foundation's annual membership drive, an effort that has provided more than 134 adaptive divers and another 128 adaptive dive buddies with the gear on their backs to start them on their journey as adaptive divers.
"With PTSD, it never stops, it runs and runs and runs. And when you get underwater, it slows down, all you hear is the bubbles, my breathing, and focusing on everything around me... it's amazing," said former US Army Captain Marlene Krpata, now a seasoned adaptive diver.
"100 percent time of my life…I thought this was impossible, the Dive Pirates made it possible," said Charles Davis who has incomplete quadriplegia. "Everyone was absolutely awesome…before you asked they were helping, and knew exactly what to do and was happy to do it. Unbelievable! Couldn't ask for anything more. [It was] a life changing experience."
"I never imagined scuba diving as a quadriplegic," shared Charles, who was injured in a 1990 motorcycle accident. "It was a little awkward at first, but I am in love with diving now...that gives you a zest for life!"
Diving Is Not Just an Adaptive Thing, It's an Inclusive Thing
"I love this because it's something I can do with able-bodied people too, it's not exclusive like wheelchair basketball or other adaptive sports," Dive Pirates Co-Founder and President Sophie Wimberley explained. "On our last trip we had a number of young couples who were just excited to have something they could enjoy together. It truly levels the playing field and we're all just divers."
Though the focus is on injured military and first responders, the Dive Pirates welcomes civilians too, with an almost 50/50 ratio of veteran to civilian recipients during its 15-year history. Military recipients commented after completing the program they appreciated the diversity, helping them re-enter civilian life, network with other people with similar abilities, and just enjoy that esprit de corps they missed from their days in the military.
Find out more by visiting us at Booth #223 during the Houston Abilities Expo August 2-4, 2019 at the NRG Center. Admission is FREE.
Pre-Register for Abilities Expo Today...It's Free!