From August 17-24, a group of twelve “Wounded Warriors” completed their scuba certifications during a fully-sponsored trip to the Caribbean island of Bonaire. Now in its 8th year, DEMA first reached out to Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA) and the Wounded Warrior Project in 2006 to bring the therapeutic use of recreational diving to these veterans of the U.S. military who sustained severe injuries while serving their call of duty. DEMA Members and many others sponsored this event.
“The fact that DEMA and various DEMA members could unite to positively impact these brave men, women and their families through learning to Be A Diver is both inspiring and a significant accomplishment in our mission to raise awareness for the sport of diving and the health benefits it provides,” said Tom Ingram, Executive Director of DEMA. “The unifying and empowering effect that diving together had on the Warriors and their families clearly illustrates the equalizing power and three-dimensional freedom that the underwater environment offers.”
These Wounded Warriors sustained life-altering injuries while serving in the military. The Warriors and their family members kicked off their week-long trip by completing their open water dives to earn their PADI and Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA) sponsored certifications. After becoming certified, they continued diving throughout the week with several shore and boat dives, sightseeing excursions, shopping, dining and participating in a multitude of activities arranged especially for them. A highlight of the trip took place when these extraordinary individuals and their travel companions took part in a parade where they were greeted warmly by the island citizens and later treated to a reception held in their honor.
The certification trip was the culmination of the efforts of a number of DEMA Members including local dive centers, manufacturers and travel providers.
Sponsors of this year’s 8th Annual Be A Diver-Bonaire Wounded Warrior Scuba Certification Trip included: 9Line LLC, Air Hogs SCUBA, Adams Unlimited Public Relations & Marketing, Bistro de Paris, Bonaire KFC, BonPhoto, BonaireTalk.com, Bonaire Quad Tours, Bonaire Guided Motorcycle Tours, Bonaire Tours & Vacations, Budget Rent A Car Bonaire, Captain Don's Habitat Bonaire, Caradonna Dive Adventures, Care Coalition, Chat & Browse Bonaire, Chesapeake Bay Diving Center, CIEE Bonaire, Destinations Weddings & Honeymoons Magazine, Disabled Sports USA, DEMA/Be A Diver, DiveNewswire, Dive Training Magazine, Elements Bonaire, Enchanted Florist, Femme Fatales Women Motorcycle Club (Ffwmc), Henderson, H.S.A. International Training Center of New Jersey, Innovative Scuba Concepts, Inc, Iron Order Motorcycle Club Bonaire (Caribbean Pirates Crew), Islands Magazine, Jack Chalk, Jewel of Bonaire, Joe’s Grill House, LeisurePro, Maspeth Lion’s Club, Mountain Bay Scuba, Inc., NetTech, N.V., OCEANIC, Ocean Enterprises, Omnicomm Media Group, PADI, Paradise Moon Bar & Restaurant, Patriot Dive Center, Princeton Tec, Rum Runners, Scuba Diving Magazine, Scuba Toys, Sport Diver Magazine, Tourism Corporation Bonaire, and the Wounded Warrior Project.