AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- Using scuba diving to help Veterans, adults and children with disabilities.
An organization called Diveheart is helping those with varying abilities reimagine the possibilities.
34-year-old marine veteran Greg Rodriguez suffered a traumatic brain injury and for him scuba diving is more than just therapy.
"When you're breathing oxygen, it's like medicine to the brain and I feel like I could do it forever," Rodriguez said.
"Way less than one percent of the population scuba dives and it's the last thing on the radar for somebody with a disability is to think oh yeah I can get in the water and be beneficial. Aqua therapy already beneficial for people with mobility issues and other disabilities," said Diveheart president and founder Jim Elliot.
Elliot has been diving for over 40 years and created the free program to give people with disabilities a new sense of freedom.
"It's mainly to get them, a lot of the time for the for the first time out of a wheel chair and into the water and give them the experience of zero gravity. We thank social media and give those photos and video and take it home and it's not Johnny in a wheelchair or Johnny with autism anymore it's Johnny the scuba diver. Now he has this new identity and thinks wow if I can scuba dive, what else can I do? Then he takes on other challenges in his life," Eliot said.
For other veterans teaching and taking part in DiveHeart is about the camaraderie.
"Not only does it help them but it helps me as well. Veterans can talk to veterans better than civilians can talk to veterans. There is that whole core of communication we have and it just helps out and builds and continues that friend ship. So it's really kind of nice to have that camaraderie again.," said Diveheart veteran's coordinator Quinn Tripplett.
"This gives me something to look forward to and I enjoy it and now I'm just trying to get the word out to other vets. Because like I said it's a whisper, you can't even find out about these programs. It's just amazing the freedom it gives you," said veteran and diver William "Bill" Hicks.
There is never a fee for those who take part and if participants travel with Diveheart they will help find resources to help fund the travel when needed.
If this is something you're interested in, visit diveheart.org.
Diveheart helps veterans and children with disabilities imagine new possibilities
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