Diveheart helps Veteran Scuba Dive Georgia Aquarium
A few weeks ago, Greg Rodriguez, a veteran with disabilities, went scuba diving with whale sharks, the world’s largest fish. Greg, a 26-year old Marine veteran who sustained traumatic brain injury, was diving with Diveheart founder and president Jim Elliott, to Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the world.
There, the two men dove in the Ocean Voyageur Exhibit, the home to the whale sharks along with the two only manta rays ever in a U.S. aquarium, stingrays, hammerhead sharks, and hundreds of other species of underwater life. “This was a tremendous adventure for Greg, who has thrived largely as the result of the physical and emotional benefits of scuba diving,” said Elliott.
Rodriguez, who was dependent on a wheelchair for two years after his injury, has gradually regained his mobility. He was encouraged by his case manager to try scuba diving with Diveheart three years ago. Since then he has made diving an important part of his life as well as of his continued recovery. “Once underwater, you are completely weightless and buoyant. It’s a whole different world out there,” Rodriguez wrote. “Underwater, I feel like I can go around the world if I had a big enough tank.” Rodriguez added that diving has been a “blessing” in his life.
Jim and Greg were flown to Georgia by Veterans Airlift Command. This national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots provide free air transportation to wounded veterans. The Georgia Aquarium is waiving the admission and diving fee for Jim and Greg. “This is amazing on so many levels,” said Elliott. “Because of the generosity of Veterans Airlift Command and Georgia Aquarium, Greg will have this chance of a lifetime.”
“Greg and I will be looking at this as a reconnaissance trip,” said Elliott. “We will ‘test the waters’ to see what the experience is like and how accessible it is. We’ll get a lay of the land so that we can then plan to make this opportunity available to more veterans across the country.”
Diveheart provides and supports educational scuba diving and snorkeling experience programs to any child, adult, or veteran with a disability with the hope of providing both physical and psychological therapeutic value. Diveheart Foundation is a non-profit tax exempt 501 © (3) national organization chartered in the state of Illinois. For further information visit www.diveheart.com or call 630-964-1983.