My family has been involved with Diveheart since 2013 when my then 13 year old son wanted to raise money for full face masks to help make diving easier for individuals with certain types of disabilities. Since then our family has fundraised, volunteered and my son has been trained to dive with disabled divers. It is an awesome and fulfilling experience and as awesome as it is for someone with a disability to scuba dive it is even more awesome to share the experience with them. Diveheart is about what you CAN do and we feel blessed as a family to be able to share our support and experiences with these awesome people. Diveheart is.....♥️♥️♥️
In August of 2016 my wife took me to Cozumel to attend something I understood to be called “Dive Hard”, which I figured to be three days of challenging or maybe marathon scuba diving. Turned out to be three days of challenging, felt like a marathon and there was some scuba diving involved. I was not at something called Dive Hard. I was at something called Diveheart. We all know scuba diving can have some very therapeutic effects, turns out scuba diving to 60 feet has rejuvenating, life enhancing, life affirming effects for paraplegics and quadriplegics. Start to think about that, try to imagine what it takes to accomplish taking para and quadriplegics safely down to a sixty feet, try to imagine the logistics involved out of the water. How are you going to get that done? Start with a group of dedicated volunteers, multiply that times rigorous, stringent training and sprinkle in planets of compassion and there you have, Diveheart!
Diveheart is an extraordinary nonprofit that opens up the world of SCUBA Diving to persons with disabilities, disabled veterans and their families! As a wheelchair user, one of my greatest memories will be diving with my wife and daughter in Cozumel! Thank you Diveheart! Check them out!
Diveheart is a innovative organization that opens the world of SCUBA diving to persons with disabilities, and provides opportunities for persons with disabilities to learn to live more independently and develop "the I can do it" approach. As a person with a disability, I wish Diveheart was around when I learned to scuba dive in 1998! I strongly urge people with disabilities to contact Diveheart and give scuba diving a try! Bill Bogdan
It is difficult to put into words just how amazing this organization is. Scuba is an incredible experience, providing the freedom of zero gravity, the adventure of exploring a different and beautiful world, the calm and peace that can only be found in breathing in the moment and underwater. Diveheart provides these gifts to people who would otherwise not be able to participate in this incredible sport. The staff is incredibly dedicated and helpful, the volunteers and dive buddies are simply the best! Love being a part of this organization!!
Diveheart really stepped up for us in a pinch. Earlier this year one of the winter storms took out our back awning. We had been getting by using one of our camping tents to fend off this brutal summer. Then, not a week before our Labor Day BBQ Mother Nature struck again tearing down the back up tent in a windstorm. Diveheart graciously offered us use of their event tents so the event could continue safely outside. Everyone had a great time and I really enjoyed getting to share more information about the organization as people were very curious about the tents logos. As a practicing physical therapist I am always very excited to spread the word about Diveheart and their mission to pretty much anyone who will listen. Our community is so lucky to have this organization here with us!
I have been fortunate to have been introduced to this wonderful foundation earlier this year! Meeting Jim and the other members of the foundation was like connecting with an extension of a new found family! Learning that I can fulfill my fathers dream to get back in the water after being a life-long avid scuba diver and after suffering a debilitating stroke ten years ago, was such a life-impacting prospect it provided a much needed invigorating lift to my fathers spirit. I am a donor and hope to be able to become a volunteer in the future. This organization gives true meaning to what a nonprofit should aspire to be.
Diveheart provides a consistent flow of positive energy for everyone involved. The opportunity see Diveheart foster feelings of empowerment, independence, and equality has provided numerous lessons learned that I also attempt to carry through to the rest of my personal and professional life!
Great organization! I have been so impressed with the leadership, mission and results. The feedback from the people helped is truly inspirational!!
I haven't been to Diveheart a lot but just by meeting Jim for the first time I could already tell what kind of a kind and helpful person he is! This is a great non profit that can truly help many people overcome challenges they face.
Diveheart is an amazing organization that does so much for not only the community here in Downers Grove, IL, but all over! I’m very proud to help by volunteering with them and giving back in many ways!
Divehart and Jim Elliot are doing amazing things in communities all over the U.S. and the world.
By teaching and allowing individuals of all abilities to experience the freedom of being in the water. It is an honor to be able to spend time with these caring knowledgeable and enthusiastic group of people.
Diveheart is a tremendous organization, helping Veterans and people with disabilities to gain physical and emotional therapy. Being able to enter the water and go scubadiving brings so much Joy and emotional relief to people with disabilities. They are a non profit so they do need our support so that they can continue to bring this wonderful service to those less fortunate in the community.
The Diveheart Foundation is an incredible organization dedicated to the disabled and Veterans. Jim and his staff are amazing individuals, providing healing to many through their service. My respect grows as I learn more about their mission. I highly recommend Diveheart to anyone looking to support a great cause. It is truly a nonprofit all would be proud to support!
Diveheart is truly one of the kindest, most generous, and well intended non-profit organizations of this decade. Words truly cannot describe the amount of positive energy and joy that they bring to the people whom they serve. Jim is an amazing human being with huge aspirations for Diveheart's future, only seeking to help others, and not himself. If I could give more than 5 stars, I would not hesitate to do so! So thank you Jim and thank you to the Diveheart staff for all that you do in this world, for other peoples wellbeing!
A nonprofit dedicated to veterans and disabled individuals with a heart of gold. I have personally witnessed the impact of their programs, seen the beautiful smiles of the participants and heard their compelling testimonials about how Diveheart has changed their life. I love to see Diveheart's dedication to this mission. I highly recommend this nonprofit.
Diveheart Foundation is amazing, to say the least. The team is one of the best groups of people around. The mission alone is enough to make you want to be involved with these guys. It has been an honor to know and work with their group in the past few years, making connections to organizations, groups, and those in need who Diveheart strives to help. They are one of a kind and truly change the lives of others in so many ways.
Diveheart excels fostering the can-do spirit across it's divers. The amount of happiness, accomplishment, and self-pride that their divers show when they get out of the water is nothing short of incredible. It truly is a very commendable mission that impacts people's lives. I'm proud to be a part of it!
I am proud to be a volunteer and donor for an organization like Diveheart. Jim, TinaMarie and the entire team at Diveheart is dedicated to building the self confidence and self esteem of those who are physically disadvantaged or those Wounded Warriors that have served our country proud and looking to ease the physical pain from their service. Like Jim says, "we are all physically equal under the water. I have truly enjoyed the time I have spent with this organization, along with learning of the many physical, psychological, and physiological benefits of Scuba Diving. I look forward to being involved for years to come.
Diveheart is an exceptional organization that I am proud to serve, learn, and be a part of as a volunteer. The more I learn about their history and ongoing operations, the more I appreciate what they’re about. I’m happy to witness Diveheart provide service and healing to others with a genuine care and approach that stands out.
Life changing are the best "two words" I can think of to describe my deep respect and appreciation for Diveheart Foundation. It is amazing to witness handicapped and wheelchair bound people (many veterans) experience the freedom and movement that SCUBA diving can bring. In water, they can move fluidly, they are transformed in mind, body and spirit. It is a feel good experience that lasts a lifetime and never gets old. The staff including their founder and president Jim Elliott are volunteers and they have chapters in many parts of the world. Kudos to Diveheart and thank you for helping our brothers and sisters feel good!
Diveheart allows people who would otherwise not be able to experience the joy and calmness that scuba diving can provide. The volunteers who provide support for the divers are the most caring and loving people on the planet.
If you feel you can volunteer or can benefit from their services, I recommend you contact them.
My son has a Traumatic Brain Injury and has been diving with Diveheart for 12 years. His association with Diveheart has brought him joy, confidence and a great feeling of accomplishment. I have found that the volunteers are extremely well trained and really love what they do. I have seen them take a person who is scared and turn that fear into one great big smile. As a non-diving volunteer that alone makes it all worthwhile.
Diveheart is a truly phenomenal program! They help people who are greatly handicapped and give them the ability to realize that they can really DO Activities they never dreamed of being able to accomplish because of their physical limitations. Diveheart really makes a difference in quality of life!
Diveheart is simply amazing!! They provide incredible opportunities for all ability levels and create a totally gratifying experience for everyone involved!
Diveheart is an incredible organization with fantastic volunteers like Dave, whose dedication significantly impacts people’s lives and happiness. The organization provides so much value to its community, and the culture they have developed is inspiring and inclusive.
I’m very impressed with Diveheart as it helps many people with disabilities, especially those with autism. Jim, Tinamarie as well as the staff and volunteer diving buddies are passionate in making all participants feel welcome. Whether it’s in a local pool or the ocean, Jim, Tinamarie and the buddies help people develop confidence and independence in such a freeing and positive atmosphere. They never see people with disabilities but with abilities.
My daughter is a participant in the Oak Lawn Park District Special Recreation programs. Diveheart contacted staff members of the park district and discussed taking some of the special needs athletes scuba diving. That was over ten years ago. Since that initial meeting dozens of special needs athletes have participated in the discover scuba programs. Many got their diving certification. It’s a great program that gives the participants confidence and motivation that transitions to other aspects of their life. As a parent I got hooked and have been an active volunteer.
Therapy, yes Scuba Therapy is amazing.
Autism, focus and attention returned for short times.
PTSD, feeling better and documented.
NERVE PAIN gone for weeks with no medications.
HELP-DONATE to fund documentation and research to create the best therapy results for these vets, children and adults with disabilities if all kinds.
Witnesses and testimonials are there.
See the web site: DIVEHEART.ORG
TRUELY fantastic results.
But, medical documented records are necessary to get the needed grants. Your donations will get it done. Everyone knows someone with a disability, do it for them and all the others that can be helped. PLEASE.
I first worked with Diveheart last year at one of their Discover Scuba experiences and was hooked immediately: the transformation in the confidence and animation of the adaptive divers was awe inspiring. I was reminded of Jesus's injunction to the blind man: "go, your faith has healed you." Last week I had the opportunity to train as an adaptive buddy which necessitated simulating the experience of blind divers, paraplegic divers and quadriplegic divers through blackout masks and restrictions on my limbs. All I can say is that the courage and trust of the adaptive diver is extraordinary: to be underwater and dependent (to a varying degree) on your buddies truly requires faith.
To be frank, before I got involved and was considering a large donation, I wondered whether the tremendous effort and logistics put into helping people with limitations was really worth it in terms of the payoff. Now I am convinced: it's a huge amount of effort and work but the organization is almost entirely volunteer and much of the equipment is donated. But more importantly, the payoff is huge. Already I saw people whose lives were transformed by their experiences. I can never really put myself in their shoes but I can certainly testify to their joy and inspiration after the dives.
DiveHeart has quite seriously changed my life. I was an avid scuba diver before a neuro disease left me with very limited mobility, and thought I would never dive again. These divers are stone cold professionals with fire hot hearts whose respectful and collaborative help and friendship gave this Navy Vet back her confidence, power, and sense of self. I feel hopeful and empowered now in other areas of life as well from this experience, and am indescribably grateful to the men and women of this stellar organization.
There is inspirational work being done in our own communities to help raise the level of awareness and need of all humanity. Diveheart embodies compassion in action.
As a volunteer I find the work done at Diveheart quite inspirational. The confidence this adventure brings the handicapped is incredible. It’s an experience they would never be able to have without the support of Diveheart and the large hearts that run the program. We need to be able to help more disabled children, vets and anyone who has physical limitations, and this can only be done with the generous support of donors everywhere. If you could only experience the joys first hand these people experience, you would want to assist this fine charity as much as possible. This is life changing stuff!!
As a volunteer I have seen firsthand how Diveheart transforms the lives of disabled children, adults, and wounded veterans. It makes my heart soar to see a participant arrive at a Diveheart Scuba Experience not knowing what to expect, and sometimes intimidated or a bit blue because he or she is accustomed to being on the sidelines and sitting out while everyone else is having fun. Within a few minutes apprehension becomes joy as first breaths are taken under water, and then the feelings of freedom and tranquility take over. And the participants aren't the only ones benefiting. Parents, spouses, friends, and us volunteers are on the journey too. To be part of such a experience makes me feel like I must have done something right to deserve such fulfillment.
On top of everything else, Diveheart is an organization that is very financially efficient. No one is on a salary, everyone supports the activities out of their own pockets, and all of the donations go directly toward what I call "making the magic happen" under water. It's incredible how Diveheart has grown across the U.S. and even internationally over more than 20 years with everyone involved donating their time. It makes me very happy and proud to be a volunteer with Diveheart!
Greatest group of people. We have gone to events all over place. Every time we do, different volumes tweets but always the same enthusiasm and compassion. Truly a giving group of people.
I found this group to be a focused hardworking group of very compassionate people. I became involved and found my time with this group to be very rewarding for myself and the others who participated in the training and in the support of the people we were blessed to be diving with. we all found a way to use our love of diving to enrich the lives of people who would never have a chance to dive, unless this and other programs exist to support them. It is a lot of satisfying hard work. The reward is the happiness of our fellow divers and being able to provide a way for them to gain more independence and go where very few in the wold go.
I love Diveheart! They come to my Special Rec and dive with us. I have been doing it for a couple of years and always look for them first when picking programs. They are very nice and treat us really nice. For about 45 minutes I get soooo close to my wish to be a mermaid! Someday I hope to go on a trip with them. Great people! They give me something special to talk to people about and that helps me have friends. It also helps to exercise my legs and muscles so they aren't tight.
Diveheart has the same goals as a Special Ed teacher which I was for 34 years. As a trained Buddy I get to see the faces of the disabled after completing each dive. What a life changing experience that couldn’t have been done anywhere but with Diveheart!!
My wife and I went through the Diveheart dive buddy training several years ago. I have to say it was the best diving training not only to help disabled clients learning to experience diving (zero gravity) but was also a great course for self preservation as a recreational diver and should be on the list of all divers who want advanced diving skills. Jim Elliott is an exceptional individual involved in a ground breaking arena that could potentially be quite profound in future therapeutic health science for Autistic as well as pain patients and more! Support of his organization, Diveheart, is warrented and exceedingly worthy!!
Randy & Annette Stoneman
I love Willamina Stanton for giving me and others with many different disabilities the opportunity to scuba dive and feel free in the water. Wilhelmina finds the greatest volunteers to help us find freedom and enjoyment in an environment where everyone is equal. Jim Elliott the founder of Diveheart and Wilhelmina have such compassion for people like myself who often have difficulty fitting into society. They build such confidence in us. God bless them. Larry Yates
This is a phenomenal organization that brings so much joy to so many, not just the participants but also to their family and friends, and the volunteers that work with them. Diveheart offers those with physical and/or cognitive disabilities the opportunity to experience weightlessness while participating in one of the coolest sports around. Scuba diving helps to build a person's confidence and self esteem, and this increased confidence and self-esteem carries over to other aspects of a person's life.
Diveheart is a wonderful organization that has touched thousands of lives over the past 16 years! The "Can Do" spirit that Diveheart exudes has allowed so many individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities to participate in an amazing sport and realize their potential!
I have a 31 year old daughter with Autism, Borderline mental impairment, Executive Functioning disorder, ADHD, and mild CP. She never really had friends and was not athletically inclined so we tried everything to create fun social encounters for her. She perticipates in a local Special Recreation Assoc and they offered scuba thru Diveheart and at a very affordable cost because of Divehearts volunteerism. Of course I was scared but she really wanted to do this as swimming and being a mermaid are her favorite things. So off we went . When I saw all of the volunteer trainers and that 2 at least were going to be with her at all times I felt more comfortable, but when I saw how they patiently explained and demonstrated repeatedly until she could show what she understood I was totally sold on this experience. She loves going there and knows most of the volunteers by name as they do her. It is truly exciting to watch her grow. AND she now has something special to tell her peers and show them she can do so much!!! She wants to progress further and eventually go on a dive trip with this group in the future. Can't say enough about this nonprofit and the encouraging and cheerful way they make everyone feel special and welcome.
As Advanced Adaptive Dive Buddies, my husband and I have had such great fun with the Diveheart family. The Adaptive Divers, Adaptive Dive Buddies, and Diveheart staff are just the type of people we like to hang out with -- kind, thoughtful, fun loving, brave and adventurous.
This organization helps make life worth living!
I am Christina Ford and have been involved with Diveheart since 2013. I reconnected with my childhood friend, Wil Stanton, who runs the South Florida chapter, and she encouraged me to become a certified scuba diver. Since my first dive, I have fallen in love with the Diveheart Community. Diveheart has shown me that there are no limitations on what I can do. They have given me encouragement, confidence, and a feeling of independence. I am thankful and looking forward to many more dives.
It is a great program and experience. If you would like to work more with Adaptive Divers, I highly recommend this training program, since it will prepare for this experiences. Our staff just did the ADB and ASI training with Jim Elliot and I found it more complete than other instructor programs that I have done before for divers with disabilities.
Hearing a gown man giggle like a 10 year old boy! I'm fairly certain it had been a while for him but, that is what happened when we dove with a thirty something year old vet! What a great opportunity for my wife and I to take disabled divers into the pool. 10 years later we can't wait for the next opportunity. Be sure to ask the team about Gabi.
My daughter (age 9) and autistic son (age 12) both went scuba diving with Jim. My son has many sensory issues and didn't want to put his head under water. Jim was great with him. By the end of the session, Jim actually got my son to quickly put his head under water! That was huge for us!
This organization has a fantastic mission and all of the volunteers are committed to it. The organization is efficiently run. You can't help but be inspired when you see the videos of the impact the organization has on the lives of those they serve.
Phenomenal endeavor that not only selflessly gives to an underserved and often disenfranchised community... but builds bridges in helping heal physical and emotional wounds! Diveheart if full of amazing people, among the best I have ever met! Working with Diveheart has been personally life changing, and undeniably transformative!
I have been involved with Diveheart since 2013. My single most endearing experiences in diving have been related to working with Diveheart. I started out as a volunteer, but have fallen in love with what they do so much that now I teach all of their courses and work directly for them! I have had the pleasure of attending multiple trips to several of their locations (Key Largo, Cozumel) and being a member of, or leading Adaptive Dive Teams on those trips. I have attended a multitude of their free Diveheart Scuba Experience (DSE) programs, and I have worked to teach their program to young people at colleges. While participating in Diveheart events, I have seen more people express true emotions of gratitude, love, thankfulness, kindness, and empathy than in any other portion of my life. It seems like after every event, everyone leaves with a few more pieces of themselves than when they started, whether they knew they needed those pieces or not, they are just more whole as a person, adaptive divers and volunteers equally. One of my favorite parts about working for Diveheart is seeing that immediate benefit and healing of souls right in front of my own eyes. We talk about "Imagining the Possibilities," but witnessing the possibilities becoming realities elicits one of the most powerful feelings of connection with others that I have ever experienced. You may start your Diveheart journey as an individual, but you will leave it as a member of the family. I love the mission and vision that Diveheart represents, and it is an absolute pleasure to work with them! Thank you!
I am a Diveheart Scuba Instructor. I am so very proud to be a member of this organization. I have known Jim for many years and will continue to support this organization.
I recently heard about Diveheart while participating in dives with my grandson who was going through his PADI Open Water certification. His instructor, Dan Kessman, told me about Diveheart and what they were doing. I had been searching for an organization like this where I can utilize my skills to help others enjoy the diving experience.
I took the Adaptive Dive Buddy course and was fortunate enough to participate in my first DSE on Sat Apr 28th. The Wheelchair Sports Festival was hosted by the Triumph Foundation at the Santa Clarita Sports Center in Santa Clarita Ca. Diveheart Scuba was just one of the opportunities out of the many hosted sports events that weekend.
There was a great turnout and the experience exceeded my highest expectations. The Adaptive Divers seemed to really enjoy the freedom of weightlessness and the overall experience. I truly enjoyed working and learning from the Diveheart Team, which was very professional, organized, and well led by Dan Kessman and Jody Seal.
What a great group of people to be involved with. I look forward to the next event!
Jim Eliott , the founder and its guiding light is nothing short of a miracle for what he has created in Diveheart. I am associated with the Veterans Center in Northbrook, Illinois and Jim has trained 4 of us to become adaptive divers. We are awaiting our first trip with Diveheart and disabled Vets. I cannot imagine a more meaningful not-for profit experience.
Jim has also taken Diveheart into the world of the autistic children with tremendous results. 5 Stars is not enough.
Being a retired veteran I was looking for a way to give back to other veterans that may not be as lucky as I have been. During a dive trip to Key Largo I learned about Diveheart.org. I asked around about it and realized this has been what I was looking for. I signed up for class to become an instructor. Not only does Diveheart help veterans but anyone with a disability. I have been with Diveheart for a little over a year now and it has been one of the most rewarding things i have done. It is simply amazing to see the faces light up when they are able to leave behind their problems even for a short while and be on an even playing field with everyone else. Just to see the excitement of the people get out of a wheelchair and swim. This is just one of the many examples that I could talk about.
As a proud partner working closely with Diveheart on their trips to Cozumel, Mexico, all of us at Dive Paradise have witnessed firsthand the inspiring and impressive impact this organization has on people with disabilities. Diveheart gives individuals with spinal cord injuries a freedom and mobility that is only available to them in the weightless underwater environment, and they are seeing significant pain relief benefits in many of these divers as well. In addition, their work is having a profound therapeutic effect on the lives of people with autism, on PTSD sufferers, amputees, non-sighted people and others with special needs. Their training programs for instructors and buddies, along with their manual on adaptive diving best practices and techniques, have helped Dive Paradise expand its capabilities and confidence when catering to our adaptive diving clientele.
This is an Amazing organization! - the freedom provided for the Adaptive Diver, the warm caring and understanding they receive, the pure joy they experience - there's nothing like it anywhere else. The training, experience and professionalism of the Dive Buddy Teams is exceptional - they adhere to stringent Safety Standards while making the SCUBA experience FUN! There is nothing better than seeing the huge grins on the faces of the Adaptive Divers and their families, unless it's the grins shared by the Buddy Teams, too. It's heart- warming, life-changing - for all involved.
Words can’t describe the impact Diveheart has on its participants. My son who is now 18, trained with Diveheart at the age of 14 in order to dive with disabled divers. While he will officially work on becoming an adaptive diver Buddy now that he is 18, the impact the training had on him was life changing. I am not sure who benefits more....the adaptive diver or those trained to dive with those who need assistance. Diveheart is a passion for those involved and of course for those that manage and arrange all of Diveheart’s training and trips. Diveheart is many things. Inclusion for those with physical and cognitive disabilities, medical research, working with injured veterans, relief from pain...the list goes on and on. Imagine the Possibilities....
I just completed my confined water advanced adaptive buddy training with Diveheart. I am so excited about my future opportunities to share the love of diving!
Diveheart is an amazing organization, bringing the joy and therapy of scuba diving to people of all abilities. I am working on completing the training to be an adaptive dive buddy and I look forward to helping with more scuba experiences!
Amazing group of volunteers! We have been helping out with their scuba experiences for a year, and just finished up training to become Adaptive Instructors and Advanced Adaptive buddies. I am humbled to work with someone with Jim’s knowledge and compassion for people with disabilities. We are all looking forward to volunteering even more in this next year!
Cheryl McWilliams. Aquatic Adventures Scuba Academy
I feel so blessed to be involved in this organization. The positivity and energy at the core of this program is continuously felt by volunteers and participants alike. Diveheart operates true to its slogan, "Imagine the Possibilities". If there is a will, Diveheart finds a way.
Working in the healthcare field, I have a high level of appreciation for activities that promote healing. Participants are offered significant benefits from scuba diving - not only psychologically and emotionally (as mentioned in many of the other reviews), but also physically. For example, the zero-gravity environment allows for safe musculoskeletal strengthening. Divers experience decreased weight and pressure on joints due to buoyancy. Decreased muscle tone and less pain make movements easier. Support of the water increases confidence - there is no fear of falling into hard ground. At a certain depth, the pressure from the surrounding water affects the body in such a way that many participants with chronic pain actually find relief.
Everyone I have met through Diveheart has been extremely motivational. I started volunteering with the intent to help out here and there with odds and ends. However, I was so impressed with Jim Elliot, Founder and President of Diveheart, along with his amazing team that I am now a newly certified diver. I look forward to continuing my training with the Diveheart family so I can expand my volunteer role as an adaptive buddy.
Diveheart could not operate without its volunteers and generous donations from those who believe in the "Can Do" spirit. Please consider volunteering, donating, or referring someone you think may benefit from all Diveheart has to offer.
I always wanted to scuba dive but because I am a wheelchair user no one would teach me then one day I saw a video filmed in Illinois with Diveheart founder Jim Elliot and now Senator Tammy Duckworth. Tammy was sitting in her wheelchair with a BCD talking about adapted scuba diving. At that moment I knew somewhere somehow diving with a disability was a possibility . I called Diveheart and they helped me get certified and now I dive as often as possible. When I dive I have also discovered that I have less pain from my neuropathy! I have been so impressed with Diveheart that a friend and I started and new Diveheart Team in the Metro DC area!
My first experience with Diveheart was at a fundraising event in November 2014 in Palm Beach. We had learned from another Diveheart Adaptive Buddy that they needed help for the Leeds Endowment event which raises funds for several charities focused on empowering people with disabilities. We drove to Palm Beach, met up with the fundraising chair and were quickly assigned to the car park tent. I was blown away by the tremendous turnout of locals on a rainy weekday night, the place was filled to capacity and the bidding for the live auction rounds was intense. I also met several people with disabilities who were Adaptive Divers, which intrigued me.
My second experience was serving as an additional diver in the water for an adaptive diver's team in July 2015. Even though I had not decided to go through the training, the team members and founder were gracious enough to teach me and my husband a lot about the dive planning for a person with disabilities. After those dives, I decided to become an Adaptive Buddy.
I went through my Adaptive Buddy training in July 2016 with the founder of Diveheart, along with 3 other students. This was handled in the mornings so that we could get more hands on experience being a part of adaptive dive teams in the afternoons. I was pushed to my limits and was amazed that I could learn so much and perform so well in 5 days of training. I decided then and there that I would step up my game and make Diveheart a big part of my retirement years.
Shortly after I was trained as an Adaptive Buddy, I received news that Diveheart had appointed a Divemaster to start up local training and events in the Tampa Bay area, where we live. We were thrilled to become a part of the team and were able to set up a couple of events for children with disabilities within a few months after our area director arrived. So far this year, we have executed 5 Diveheart Scuba Experience events for children, 2 of which happened on my wedding anniversary and my birthday! It's been such a gratifying experience that I decided to take a course in grant writing to help Diveheart obtain more funds for adaptive diving.
The first time I volunteered as an Adaptive Buddy with Diveheart, I was absolutely amazed at how the experience affected the participants and myself. To see the joy and smile on the face of someone able to be free in the water, brought tears to my eyes. It was overwhelming to say the least. This organization helps to create those experiences for people, with a caring, considerate and safe team. Keep it up Diveheart!