Bob Kelley, founding board member of
DiveBar, received a heartfelt Certificate of Appreciation from
DiveHeart President, Jim Elliot, and two local disabled divers – Juan Carlos
Gill and Karen Mitchell –recipients of DiveBar’s Putting Something
Back-Scuba Style Program. The pair was treated to a life changing one
week adaptive diving adventure in Cozumel, Mexico, where they were able
to escape the confines of gravity and from their wheelchairs and participate
in drift dives along majestic reefs and walls of Caribbean.
Mr. Gill, a Miami resident, has had
cerebral palsy and been visually impaired since birth, yet has not allowed these disabilities
to limit his athleticism. In addition to being an avid diver, he has participated
in over 40 wheelchair marathons, being the first visually impaired athlete
to do so. “It was an incredibly liberating experience for me especially
since it was my first time diving in Cozumel and because we were there
to help other first time divers as well. This wouldn’t have happened
without the DiveBar” says Mr. Gill.
“The hands-on experience, the atmosphere, the pristine nature of
the reefs… these are things I’ll never forget” says
Ms. Mitchell. “It was my first time diving outside of South Florida.”
Ms. Mitchell, who lives in Deerfield Beach, had a spinal cord injury thirty
three years ago and has been wheelchair bound since.
Diveheart, an organization devoted to adaptive scuba diving worldwide,
is hoping to revolutionize physical therapy for people with disabilities.
They are currently partnering with Duke University on a research project
examining the hyperbaric benefits of zero gravity environments. Mr. Elliot
states “Patients who have had the opportunity and ability to participate
in dives of sixty feet depth or more experience a relief from pain, many
for the first time, which can last up to three weeks. We want to bring
that relief to more and more people around the world.”
DiveBar, conceived by Mr. Kelley over a year ago, is the first ever underwater
bar association and is dedicated to promoting education, awareness, and
protection of marine environments through scuba diving, philanthropic
activities, and learning experiences.