Dive Pirates Train 12 Challenged Divers for Cayman Brac Adventure
Pirates are first tourist group to travel to the Brac since Hurricane Paloma Nov 8th
Neither a massive hurricane nor the current recession could hold back the Dive Pirates foundation (DPF), now gearing up for its largest trip to date with 12 recently-trained adaptive scuba divers, 2 returning adaptive divers, along with other certified divers as diving buddies, family members and supporters.
Once a year the non-profit organization of scuba diving enthusiasts sponsors those with disabilities with training, gear, and a paid trip to Cayman Brac to complete their certification. This year will feature 63 travelers including the recipients, their support teams and Dive Pirates enthusiasts.
The recipients include those who have suffered combat injuries, car accidents or illness:
Stanley Vigil – paraplegic – Albuquerque, NM
Traci Bryan – quadriplegic – Dallas, TX
Juana Flores – quadriplegic – Dallas, TX
Alan Bailey – quadriplegic – Houston, TX
Jake Hipps – paraplegic – Vietnam veteran – Buffalo, NY
Latseen Benson – double leg amputee – Iraq veteran – Houston, TX
Dan Gade – leg amputee – Iraq veteran – Athens, GA
Bonnie Brawner – leg amputee – San Antonio, TX
Becca Lockhart – incompletely formed hands and feet – St Petersburg, FL
Albert Garcia – arm Amputee – San Antonio, TX
Alex Nicholl – leg amp – Iraq veteran – Louisville, KY
Other adaptive divers who are returning for their love of the program and diving include:
Eric Alva – leg amputee – Iraq veteran – San Antonio, TX
Nathan Gonzalez – quadriplegic – USMC veteran – San Antonio, TX
“We were devastated after the hurricane, and feared we could not accommodate the foundation, which has become part of the Brac family,” said Mary Tibbetts Brandes, owner of the Brac Reef Beach Resort that in the past retrofitted some of its rooms to accommodate disabled guests. “Though we are on the mend we are very excited to say we will be co-hosting the adaptive divers this year with The Breaker’s Condos and the new The Alexander Hotel, and the divers will continue to use Reef Divers II with its staff of specially-trained dive masters.”
“We can’t say thank you enough for the Brac business community pulling together to make this year’s travel event possible,” continued Sophie Wimberley, DPF co-founder. “And we in turn want to continue to come here with adaptive divers as Reef Divers II is now a universal referral destination for adaptive dive training.”
This year’s trip, coined “Out Brac – Pirates Down Under” with an uniquely designed t shirt by artist Rogest, is possible due to generous donations of those attending the 5th Annual Pirates Ball, the foundations’ key fundraiser, and a generous grant from ABB. Also very important to the trip this year is the continued support of SSI and the newly formed chapters across the country. Fundraisers in Dallas, Texas (Adventure Scuba), Corpus Christi, Texas (Aventure Scuba), Albuquerque, and New Mexico (New Mexico Scuba Center) have also contributed to this year’s recipients making the expansion of Dive Pirates across the country possible.
The Dive Pirates Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing Scuba Diving to persons with disabilities and joining them with the mainstream of divers. Its vision is to create a community of adaptive divers that will dive and travel in the mainstream world of scuba diving through education and overcoming obstacles.
For more information about the foundation or the trip to Cayman Brac go to www.divepirates.org.