Last Friday, I spoke on the phone with a delightful woman that I had met at Our World Underwater in Chicago in February. She and her "side-kick", JD, were recruiting donars/donations for a fairly new organization called SUDS ....Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba. SUDS is based at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington,DC. and is designed to help improve the lives of injured soldiers returning from Irag and Afghanistan. By training the soldiers in a challenging and rewarding activity it can help the rehab process and promote mobility. It also offers the soldiers a sport that they can enjoy all of their lives.
They are having a fundraising event called Operation Bottom Time (OBT), to be held in Key Largo the week of May 17-24, 2008. Having completed their confined water training at Walter Reed, OBT will be focused on the completion of their open water certifications and introducing them to the diving community.
As I mentioned his name above, JD, a disabled soldier, stopped by my art booth to look at my work and to chat a while.We bumped into each other about 3 different times in the hotel within the next 2 days and always ended up chatting for at least 20 minutes. What a neat guy and so easy to fall into a conversation with. He will be one of the soldiers taking his open water certification at OBT.
I wish all the soldiers much luck with their certifications. I'm sure they will all pass with flying colors and will find scuba to be a new and exciting experience in their lives. Since I personally can't be there to cheer them on, I hope that my art donation to the silent auction will help support this wonderful organization and I hope that someday I will be able to meet some of them on one of my dive trips to thank them personally for the honorable ways they have served our great country.