Bob Kelley, the 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 were 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 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.