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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Diveheart Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Centers to Support the Independence of Specific Populations, Health, Health Care, Human Services, Recreation & Sports, Sports

Mission: Diveheart helps build confidence and independence in children, adults and veterans with disabilities through the sport of scuba diving. The DIVEHEART VISION: It is our hope to bring the disabled dive industry up to the level of the disabled ski industry by 2020. For example: fifty or more years ago if an individual in a wheelchair rolled up to a ski resort in Colorado and wanted to downhill ski, there were no opportunities. Today, many ski resorts and operators around the world cater to skiers with disabilities, giving them the opportunity to experience the excitement of Alpine skiing. We believe that as individuals with disabilities discover that scuba diving is an activity that they can easily participate in, the tide will rise and the growing demand will necessitate that dive retailers, manufacturers, instructors, operators and resorts recognize and meet the need.

Programs: Diveheart has programs for children, adults and veterans with disabilities.

Community Stories

125 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Denise Faldowski N.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

spoli13

Board Member

Rating: 5

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!

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

I learned about this incredible organization back in late 2003. I was amazed that they got kids with disabilities out of their wheelchairs and into such an exciting sport. I work with kids with disabilities and thought that it would be the coolest thing to get them diving. Well I did! Now 12 years later I am still getting my students involved in diving.

I believe in the mission of this organization wholeheartedly! So much so that I joined the board six years ago! Since my beginnings with Diveheart, we have grown from just serving children with disabilities, to serving adults and our nations veterans with disabilities as well!

I am a Recreation Therapist by trade, so I understand how participation in an activity can increase the self worth and self-esteem for a person with a disability. Plus, scuba diving offers a gravity-free environment that is so exhilarating for person who has a mobility impairment or paralysis. And the most exciting part is that scuba diving is the coolest thing!

The volunteers with this organization are incredibly amazing!!! They offer their time, resources, etc. and often times fund their way on trips just so our participants can experience the thrill of a lifetime. For many of our volunteers, this is more than "just helping out." It is a passion that they have to help better the lives of others!

Ronald F. Rispoli, MS, CTRS
Diveheart Board Member

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Rosemary C.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

1 Linda McLaughlin M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wow, this is just the most amazing organization!!!! I have to admit, I was scared by the prospect of being a buddy for an adaptive diver. But all it took was the excitement of the Diveheart team to make me feel a true part of the adventure. It is virtually impossible to describe the humbling experience of helping a quadriplegic become a superwoman 30 feet under the ocean. "Imagine the possibilities" is not just a catch phrase for Diveheart, it is the true spirit of this group.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering with Diveheart has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. From the volunteers to the participants the foundation is filled with incredible people who are helping each other enjoy and live life. The smiles and happy tears I've seen have made volunteering with Diveheart one of the best decisions I've made in my life and I look forward to volunteering with them for years to come.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering with Diveheart as a adaptive dive buddy for the past two years. This organization has brought so much joy and freedom to both the adaptive divers and the volunteers. I'm always looking forward to the next Diveheart event!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a Marine Vietnam Veteran, PADI Scuba Instructor and soon to be certified as an Advanced Adaptive Dive Buddy Instructor for Diveheart! While in South Florida and the Keys, I have had the privilege of assisting Wilhelmina Stanton, Florida Team Leader, Diveheart and her incredible team of volunteers teaching our Wounded Warriors and adaptive divers to enjoy the experiences of "zero gravity" as they fly in pools and open waters.

These heartfelt experiences create an incredible win-win paradigm (big word for this Jarhead) for the DH team and dive operators, the adaptive divers and their families. I believe they truly heal, are deeply engaging and build confidence and courage.

I look forward to continuing to volunteer with this incredible nonprofit. Thank you for the opportunity to "continue to serve!"

Semper Fidelis,

David DeChant
PADI OWSI #319693

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer "Advanced Adaptive Diver Buddy" for Diveheart.org I have recently begun to experienced first hand the enjoyment, excitement and fulfillment shown by adaptive diver participants.
This can be seen in their local pool Diveheart Scuba Events as well as when they partner with wonderful dive operators like Rainbow Reef Diving in Key Largo.
The weightless zero gravity world of scuba diving in the pool or ocean is a special experience for anyone, but for the adaptive diver, often gives a new sometimes life changing level of freedom and confidence not felt from any previous activity in their life.
It is truly inspiring to see adaptive divers in action, and their sense of excitement from being given this opportunity to "spread their wings' and fly through the underwater world, unfettered by gravity on land.
Two Thumbs Up to Diveheart and their founder/leader Jim Elliott.
Rob Waterfield, Miami Lakes, FL

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our 14 year old son Tristen, who has athetoid CP, first participated with Diveheart in October 2016 in Miami. His dad took him and when he got back he went on and on about how he couldn't believe he could do it! He thought the equipment was cool and he was so proud he could stay down so long!

He participated with Diveheart again in June 2017. While there, he was able to connect with other members of the community who invited him to other events he would be able to participate in around the community and talked with him without the interfering of his mom!

He now believes/knows he can do anything and is becoming more confident. We refer to his dives when he gets frustrated with his physical difficulties and remind him, "...but you can SCUBA..." which gets him more motivated to find a way through whatever challenge he is facing.

We are so grateful that Diveheart has made their program so accessible to Tristen and thankful for all those people who donate that may never see Tristen, and many others, enjoy the benefits of diving in, and out of the water!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As the newest diveheart instructor, this was my first experience diving with fully adaptive divers and adaptive dive buddies. What an amazing group of people both the divers and the Buddies. The organisation was Top Notch with Rainbow Reef Dive Center supplying a boat and Incredible Crew. I look forward to many such Adventures with many such people.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization blows my mind. They have allowed my sister and many other people get the water and feel free again or for the first time! The passion in the volunteers is seen at every event.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Jim Elliott and Diveheart do amazing work. I have worked with Jim behind the scenes on a volunteer basis, and I have known Jim personally for over 35 years. Diveheart makes a powerful, positive difference in so many lives. Please support them in their mission.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have worked with Jim Elliott and this organization for two years. I am very impressed with the very focused efforts to improve the lives of our disabled veterans and other participants with disabilities. Their organization make lives matter and bridge the gap to allow the disabled to experience a truly meaningful adventure in life. I myself am an open water diver and I intend to not only support the Diveheart Foundation financially, but I will also donate my time to help support events. I would like to become a certified instructor for Diveheart in the future. More people need to get on board to help this foundation get noticed.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have personally had the pleasure of being a volunteer for Diveheart. The experience is incredible and life changing.

This organization is ran by a fantastic group of people that continues to set the standard for adaptive diving.

I highly encourage anyone to be apart of Diveheart in any way possible!

Louis6

Client Served

Rating: 5

Diveheart does a lot to help people like myself with all types of disabitlies through scuba diving. Jim Elliot is a brilliant man with an amazing goal and dream. Him and his organization has touched many lives forever.

Kathy276

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Being involved with the Diveheart Foundation is an amazing adventure.

To experience the generous attitudes of the volunteers and to witness the transformation from trepidation to pure joy of the brand new divers is quite a gift.

Jim Elliott has created an environment of learning and inclusion. A world where all are welcome and all are cherished, and all are underwater defying gravity.