One of LSI’s core values is the importance of making the world a better place for us all and our very own employee, Dan Dorcas, is a great example of this. Read Dan’s story below about his volunteer experience of scuba diving with paraplegics and quadriplegics.
Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado, is a world-renowned rehabilitation hospital that exclusively specializes in the neuro-rehabilitation and research of patients with spinal cord injuries (SCI) and brain injuries (BI). Craig Hospital is a not-for-profit, free-standing, national center of excellence that has treated more than 31,000 patients with SCI and BI since 1956. One of the areas of therapy at Craig Hospital is Therapeutic Recreation – a variety of activities that include hunting, bicycling and Scuba to name a few.
Once a month, patients from Craig are transported to A-1 Scuba and Travel Center (SSI) in Denver for a “Discover Scuba” adventure in the pool. These patients could be anyone from paraplegics to full quadriplegics. Volunteers and professionals are on hand to assist these patients in this event, and all are trained and certified through the Handicapped Scuba Association in order to assist these patients.
Some patients go on to get Scuba certified either through SSI or the Handicapped Scuba Association. The severity of their injuries dictates their certification, as well as how many HSA “Dive Buddies” are required to dive with them. Should they get certified, they have a chance to go on a week-long dive trip to places such as Cozumel, Caymen Brac, Bonaire, Curacao and Roatan, to name a few.
Because of LSI’s volunteer policy, I am able to participate in the monthly “Discover Scuba” sessions and was able to dive with disabled divers this past June in Cayman Brac. We had a total of seven disabled divers in all age ranges and from paraplegic to full quads. We spent six days with two morning dives each day averaging anywhere from 60’ dives to 100’ dives. Not only do we assist with the dives, there are also the logistics of travel assistance, meals and of course assisting them on and off of the boats.
This was truly an amazing experience, and I hope to be able to assist on future dive trips. Diving “levels the playing field” between people with disabilities and their able-bodied peers by facilitating access to a sport that they, and others, think are not possible. Diving also motivates people with disabilities into pursuing other life challenges by allowing them to achieve at a sport that many people cannot.
I will say that there were many highlights on the trip. However, in one particular instance a paraplegic patient was assisted to the bottom, became neutrally buoyant and was able to stand on his own two legs. His wife, who was diving with us reached out to her husband, and they danced on the ocean floor…the first time they were able to do so in many, many years!