Disabled Program Testimonials

Disabled Program Testimonials


Scott, Lynn and A-1 Scuba,

Thank you so much for all of your amazing support and assistance with our recent dive trip to Cozumel Mexico with the disabled diving program. Your expertise, advice and support throughout the whole process was undoubtedly the secret to my success of diving once again even though I am disabled. I was so impressed by the seamless coordination and team effort by Lynn, Scott, the staff at A-1 scuba and also the coordinating efforts with dive paradise in Cozumel. It truly made the trip magical!

Thank you so much and I look forward to talking with you all again!

EB


Thank you for the HSA training this past weekend. Often, one doesn’t begin to feel the real impact of an experience until it is over. This is so for me in this case. Before I came to your class, I knew I wanted to share the beauty and freedom of diving with those who usually would assume, or, worse, be told, that it’s beyond them. Since leaving the aquarium on Monday, however, this has become less of an abstract idea and more of a sense of true dedication, even duty. This is thanks to you. I’ll do my best to make your training count for something as I begin offering adaptive programs in Hawaii.

Aloha,
Jeff


Hi Scott,

Thank you for coming to California to teach our class. I wish that I could provide you with some constructive criticism or feedback on how to make the program better. However, I enjoyed the class and experience so much I am not sure what could be done better!

You did a great job guiding us through the material and skills and helped create an environment that was comfortable and encouraged teamwork. I hope that all of your students have the same experience as our group did.

Hope to dive with you again soon!

Todd
WAVES / HSA Instructor


Scott,

A sincere “Thank You” for venturing to Minnesota to conduct this weekend’s HSA program. It was truly a valuable and educational experience, and I learned a lot. Culminating the entire thing in the Mall’s Aquarium was definitely a nice touch. Affiliation with HSA as an instructor is something I’ve wanted to achieve for many years. You made that possible for me. Thanks. That was definitely fun seeing the reactions of the divers we escorted underwater. It’s nice to be able to give something so simple that brings so much joy. Take care. And again, Thank You. If there’s anything you ever need from Minnesota, please don’t hesitate to call.

Sincerely,

Bill K.


Scott,

I really appreciated your guidance and leadership throughout the course. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and getting to know everyone, learning with you and progressing through the skills.

As far a feedback, I liked the “informal” atmosphere of the class. I also loved your energy level and enthusiasm with regard to HSA diving. It is truly infectious and gave me a deep appreciation for what is possible and the role that I can play. As I told you, prior to learning more about HSA, I would have told you that you were crazy for even considering what we all now know is possible. I would add that the biggest impact on me was when Chad and Becky visited and were willing to be so open and honest about their disabilities. That really tied it all together for me and gave me a new appreciation for persons with disabilities, as well as a new appreciation for how lucky and blessed I have been.

The pool sessions were great, but I really loved the practical application dives at the Sea Life Aquarium. My favorite portion of that was the blind diver exercise. I really enjoyed leading Bill around and helping him to “see” all that the exhibit has to offer. Even more enjoyable was being led around as a blind diver. Although I have dove that exhibit many times, I found it very enjoyable and informative to “see” the exhibit in a new way.

I would add that all of the exercises also helped to develop a huge amount of trust in your dive buddy and/or driver. I also believe that some of the things I learned and experienced helped me to refine and improve some of my personal diving skills.

Thanks for a great class.

Ron K.


Wow Scott!

I’m certain we all came away from this awesome experience with something a little different, but this was SUCH a different experience from the PADI IDC! It was dynamic, fun, inspiring and awakening. Thank you to ALL! The coordinators, participants, special guest, instructors-EVERYONE made this a phenomenal experience!! I look forward to applying the skills and knowledge that I had the privilege to take part in.

With sincere respect and kind regards,

Dan


Hello Scott and Tom,

The HSA-ITC course is truly the most rewarding scuba class I have taken. Thank you both for sharing your time and your expertise. I can’t wait to put these skills to use!

I enjoyed your warped senses of humor, but I imagine that isn’t the input you’re looking for. ;0. My favorite part of the class was the pool time. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes (or wheelchair) was incredibly eye opening. As the able bodied “driver”, being able to give the scuba experience to someone who otherwise might never experience it was very humbling.

I hope I have the opportunity to work with you again.

Heather


Scott,

I would like to thank you for the wonderful opportunity to go scuba diving at your facility. It had been about 12 years since I last donned scuba gear and that was during my time in the NAVY. My life has changed so much since my accident and it is always a daily struggle with every task that I need to accomplish. After my injury happened there really wasn’t much that would motivate me to leave some of the other rehabilitation centers that I was at. After a long time of having my wife and other therapist talk me into coming to Craig rehabilitation center it was one of the best decisions that I have made.

The staff here at Craig really go above and beyond what is required of them they know how to take care of the patients with the support of facilities like A1 Scuba that provide people with spinal cord injuries an opportunity to scuba.

It was difficult for me to think or even try getting into a pool since my injury let alone go scuba again and it is something that I thought I would never do. I actually was not going to attend the scuba trip but due to Mrs. Carol’s persistence, it was possible for me to attend. Once I was there and the memories came back of the good times I had it was well worth the trip. I was a little bit scared because I wasn’t sure how my lower half was going to react after my injury but once I was in the pool things changed and I was able to maneuver gracefully and free under water. It was one of the best times that I have had since my injury.

The staff at A1 Scuba are professionals at what they do and know how to make people with spinal cord injuries comfortable to get back in the water and scuba. I felt like I was part of the A1 Scuba family.

It is good to know that there are businesses like yours that are willing to donate time and facilities so that we can reintegrate into the community and begin to find our new normal life.


Dear A-1,

I just completed the 3-day HSA Instructor course with Scott and Carol. I had a blast! Both instructors are very knowledgeable and experienced in training and diving with divers with disabilities. I didn’t know what I didn’t know until I took this course. Patient and personable, they make learning fun! Look no further, A-1 Scuba is a first-rate operation.

Thanks Guys!
Adolfo W.


Hi Scott,

I want to thank you for taking the time to train us. I know we all learned a tremendous amount of info and feel much better prepared. But also know there is a lot more to learn and we are looking forward to the future. I hope that we will be able to send a few more students to you next year.

You have a first class operation and are a model for all dive shops across the country! I really enjoyed the way you teach and hope I can someday be as good.

Thanks again for everything. Looking forward to stopping by the shop the next time I’m visiting my Daughter.

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Dennis


Dear Lynn, Scott, and Carol,

Thank you all for another wonderful trip to Curacao with our Divers with Disabilities group. Although this is our fourth such trip, every time I come away marveling at the courage of the divers with physical challenges. To go into the water with only limited ability to maintain buoyancy and ear clearing and to trust another individual with those essential functions truly demonstrates courage and faith. I have nothing but admiration for every one of the people who get lifted out of a wheel chair and into the ocean.

As you know, this was my husband’s first trip as a fulltime support diver. It brought tears to my eyes to watch this frequently impatient man slow down and work with his disabled buddy. I was so proud of his kinder, gentler side.

As always, you three went out of your way to make certain we had a fun time, all the while dealing with equipment problems and idiots who clear their mask with fruit punch. You instill in the group a spirit of comradeship and make even this elderly diver want to keep going back. Thank you so much!

All the best,
Abby


Dear Scott,

Thank you so much for the amazing weekend A-1 Scuba made possible for our Camp Riley divers in February of this year. Your team’s overwhelming generosity and impressive expertise made the weekend possible for them. Their diving certification was truly a lifetime achievement.

For individuals with physical disabilities, life can often seem full of obstacles. It was hard for our Riley campers to believe that it would be possible that they could ever scuba dive much less become certified. Those moments of watching them gain confidence and achieve that goal are ones that all of us will always treasure.

All of us at Riley Children’s Foundation are deeply grateful that they and you made this experience possible. We look forward to building our partnership in the years to come.

Regards,
Maureen

Maureen Manier
Vice President, Communications and Marketing
Riley Children’s Foundation
RileyKids.org


Dear Carol and Scott,

I just wanted to drop a note to let you and your staff know how great a job you are doing. I have been legally blind all of my life so I’ve become accustom to it. At this point I don’t think of myself as having a disablement or a handicap. I’m a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and thanks to you two, now I’m an HSA Instructor as well!

I decided to take the HSA course after a diver approached our dive store requesting to learn to dive again. He’d suffered a stroke and was paralyzed on the left side. I worked with him in the pool a couple of times, in an attempt to get a good understanding of how well he can function in the water. After the 2nd time in the pool I thought that he would never be able to dive in open water again. Now that I have taken your HSA course I’m going to work with him some more and quite sure that he can and will be able to dive again!

One enters the class with a desire to help others and to be involved somehow. You leave the class with the tools that will help you make a difference in someone’s life. The knowledge and skills that you learn prepare you for being a part of something truly amazing……. a transformation from “I CAN’T” to the “I CAN”! This “attitude adjustment” allows you to help give the person with a disability the freedom, or the feeling, that they can achieve something. That in itself is a gift that they will cherish and remember for a lifetime.

I will leave you with a thought; some people have asked me why I would want to go through the effort and expense to do this. My answer to them would be, “to make a difference and enrich someone else’s life.” You don’t do this for the money or the glory and fame, you simply do this for others because you love it.

Thanks A-1 Scuba for preparing and showing me how we all can make a difference. I would highly recommend that every interested diver, no matter what rating they currently hold, take your HSA course.

Jeffrey N.
PADI MSDT
Under Water Works, Inc
PADI 5-Star Facility – Tigard, Oregon


Thank you Scott and Carol for all of the time you spent working with us.

Jeff and I came away from your HSA instructor/dive buddy course with our minds going faster than our jet plane coming home! As instructors, we see people grow every day, but this class takes the growth and excitement to a whole new level for someone that wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity of life as WE see it or get back into the life that they once had as previous divers. We never know what life is going to deal us. I once read that “if you haven’t LEARNED something new and haven’t HELPED someone, your days work isn’t finished!”

On that note, thank you again Scott and Carol. We look forward to working with the VA in Portland and will stay in touch.

Jim and Jeff
Portland Oregon


Dear Scott,

I am writing to express appreciation on behalf of Riley Children’s Foundation for the amazing partnership we enjoyed with the Denver Downtown Aquarium that enabled our Camp Riley students and members of our staff to become certified. During an incredibly busy weekend for the aquarium (President’s Day) Dive Safety Officer,Todd, and the A-1 Scuba team handled every detail flawlessly. They ensured that our divers were safe and had the experience of a lifetime.

For individuals with physical disabilities, life can often seem full of obstacles. It was hard for our Riley campers to believe that it would be possible that they could ever scuba dive much less become certified. Those moments of watching them gain confidence and achieve that goal are ones that all of us will always treasure. There were cheers and many tears as we watched them succeed and then gain the confidence to be able to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Denver Aquarium.

I would like also to acknowledge Todd and Shane. Their diving expertise was complemented by their commitment to these young people’s experience. Again, it was a weekend crowded with many activities, but Todd and Shane and the rest of the A-1 and Aquarium staff always made sure our group received their full attention and had the highest quality of experience. They were great for me to work with in advance and during the weekend.

All of us at Riley Children’s Foundation are deeply grateful that they and you made this experience possible. We have been singing the praises of Denver Aquarium and A1 Scuba to everyone as we have shared stories from this event. We look forward to building our partnership in the years to come.

Regards,
Maureen Manier
Vice President, Communications and Marketing
Riley Children’s Foundation
30 South Meridian, Suite 200
Indianapolis, IN 46204
317.634.4474
RileyKids.org


Dear, Fawn, Jack and Carol,

I had the honor of becoming HSA certified in July of 2012 with the most incredible instructors Fawn and Jack Davis. I have been a C5 level quad for 15 months and going scuba diving makes me feel more normal, free and comfortable than any activity since my accident. Some of the highlights of my experience were diving in the aquarium and having two instructors that paid great attention to my special needs; such as temp control and my comfort. I can’t say enough about how my experience at A-1 Scuba was awesome and even a life-inspiring event. You guys have a wonderful program and I wouldn’t change a thing. I find that writing this letter brings a tear to my eye, so thank you Fawn, Jack and Carol. This will certainly be remembered as one of my greatest experiences.

Thanks again A-1 Scuba – you guys ROCK!!!

Ethan


Dear Lynn, Rita and Carol,

I wanted to say something extra about this trip. As you know, we have been on many A-1 trips and this was our third trip with divers and disabilities. Despite being an old pro, I took something extra away from this trip.

First, the service from Dive Paradise was above superb. The dive masters and boat crew anticipated our every whim and where to deliver. While the current the first day created a few problems for me, the diving was exceptional, especially the variety and health of the sea life and coral. It was all WOW!

The hotel was comfortable and the food was good, plentiful and varied. I appreciated the “free” cocktails and wine and the lovely pool.

The humor brought to the trip by Carol and Rita kept us all laughing and helped to abate any concerns we might have had. Lynn, as always, was there to manage everything, while dealing with a couple of major issues. Her calm professionalism is an inspiration to us all. All three of you worked overtime to create camaraderie among a diverse group, many of whom had never met before.

Now the most important part. In a world where word courage is far overused, I witnessed unbelievable courage on the part of our divers with disabilities and to some extent, their buddies. To see people, bound to a chair by rotten life circumstances, put their trust and their lives in the hand of others was truly inspirational. Knowing how diving impacts my own view of the world, I can only imagine what it must be like for those with disabilities to float freely in all the beauty of the sea. Every single diver with a disability reminded me to be so grateful for my health and for all the other blessings in my life.

The buddies, who can take on the responsibility from another person’s life, are pretty gusty souls. One screw-up could lead to serious consequences and yet, they do their job with humor and skill.

Thank you for all you did for all of us and thank you so much for making this an awesome week.

Abby


Carol

I really can’t thank you enough for such a wonderful, powerful and inspiring weekend! You are a really cool chick with a big heart and I absolutely adore that!! I didn’t have a chance to give you a hug yesterday cuz you were nowhere to be found so I’m going to have to owe you one. (It’s very hard to type with a tear in one’s eye by the way)

There were quite a few very powerful moments over the weekend and I just want to share a quick one that brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it. So yesterday at the aquarium while we were underwater there was a guy in a wheel chair on the other side of the glass with the biggest smile on his face cheering us on. I cannot even begin to describe what that did to me Carol. I can tell you one thing and that is I will never be the same!

I’ve been chatting and texting my brother all weekend and he’s really excited! It’s because of him that I took this class. Him becoming a quadriplegic has presented a number of challenges but thanks to you, we now know there is more to life than just sitting in a wheelchair!

A million thanks seems inadequate…

Dewey


“Getting my Open Water certification was one of the best things I’ve ever done. It got me out into the community interacting with other like-minded adventurers and started me down this path of exciting outdoor sports.

I highly recommend that other blind people pursue this program.”

Erik Weihenmayer, Blind Adventurer, Motivational Speaker, Author


Scott,

I just read about your induction into the Disabled Divers Hall of Fame. I want to say congratulations, it’s well deserved.

I’m proud to have been part of the A-1 family of diver graduates and still reflect upon my initial training (OW thru DM) at A-1. You’re personal attention and guidance in the classes I had you for my instructor still go with me in my own continuing career as a PADI instructor. I’ve always regarded the training I received at A-1 as the best anyone can receive and it’s due mainly to you and the staff you maintain at A-1.

Your background in physical therapy and as a scuba professional has lead you to this point and this particular recognition is long overdue. This along with all the other contributions you’ve given to the scuba industry, is something you can be very proud of and something everyone should look at when thinking about their own career and where it can take them if they are fortunate enough to be able to work in this industry.

I wish we could all do as much.

All the best,

Mike D.
PADI MSDT


“There’s a world under the sea that’s gravity free!”

-Kirk W.


As a blind individual I never thought I would get the opportunity to go scuba diving. I was confident I could do it but never had the opportunity.

This scuba discovery gave me the feeling of freedom. The experience of being able to breathe underwater and go where you want is great. This was an exceptional thing.

Jay


Dear A-1 Scuba and Travel Center,

I wanted to thank you for giving me the incredible opportunity to dive at the Denver Aquarium.

Diving at the Aquarium was truly amazing. To dive with the fish produced a heavenly experience where I felt suspended in time and space. A place where time stopped and for a moment the pain and the burden of recovery disappeared.
But as magical as it was to dive with the fish, the most beautiful moment for me was to see Victoria’s excitement across the glass. It was priceless.

Also, despite the thickness of the glass wall, I was surprised at the fact that there was little distortion of those on the other side of the glass and to be able to come so close to them while the marine life swam all around us was an unimaginable experience. I am in awe of the leadership at Craig Hospital for the value they place on recreational therapy and in particular to the scuba program. And after living through the experience I can truly say thank you!

My journey through Craig has been phenomenal, but to have gone scuba diving as part of my recovery process was way beyond any expectation. I have never even dreamed of such an experience as part of a recovery program. The event produced such effect on me that it provided an immense energy boost – both mental and physical. I know I will one day be free of pain because I have already experienced it twice, and both times it happened while I was scuba diving. Additionally, the installations behind the scenes at the Aquarium were in themselves amazing to see. I was amazed at all the required equipment to maintain the quality of the water for the fish to thrive in the artificial environment.

Carol, Scott and Craig, I cannot thank you enough. This experience was the highlight of the recovery journey.

Hugs,

Lalo


“On land you have to deal with Gravity therefore even the simplest task can become insurmountable. From the moment you enter the water you start to regain some of the freedom you lost, gravity is no longer a hindrance. Thank you A-1 for giving me some of my freedom back!”

Greg Cooley, Traumatic brain injury


“I never planned to have a life-changing spinal cord injury OR a life-changing scuba experience, but Craig Hospital helped me with both. I could never have foreseen the incredible experiences that were in my future when agreeing to go on a scuba outing. A simple somersault the first time underwater at A-1 Scuba & Travel Center with ‘Discover Scuba’ convinced me to explore this adventure more. Now I’ve done 54 dives with my wife and traveled to amazing places. The donors of Craig Hospital introduced me to a world of adventure beyond my injury.”

Gary Epping (C4/5 Quad)
Craig Graduate ’75
Wilsonville, OR


It was a really awesome experience I gained some self-confidence with being underwater and being a blind person. Everybody should do it.

Selena


“The only limits we have are the limits we put on ourselves. Somebody who’s disabled can do anything they can put their minds to.”

Tom Isaac, C5 Quad


Whether you’re in a wheelchair or not, you don’t know what you can do unless you just try it.”

Scott Webster (Incomplete quad)


“Once you’re in the water, there’s no issues of accessibility, there’s no steps to worry about.”

Dave Hosick (PADI Advanced Diver and C-6 quad)


“It gives me the joy that I got out of the other things I did. I get back to the same kind of happiness I had before.”

David Farrell & his wife Alyssa marked the one year anniversary of his injury while on the 2006 Cayman Brac trip.


“Thanks so much for opening our eyes to new possibilities for adventure & fun we can have together throughout our lifelong journey”
Brent Barribeau & Jen Bolka (engaged on our Bonaire 2007 trip!)


Dear Scott,

I really wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed being able to dive in the pool with the Craig Hospital staff and volunteers. There was some miscommunication or misunderstanding on my part of how these sessions operate. Nonetheless, Carol, Jack, and the other volunteers stayed late to get me in the water. I showed Carol my old certification card, and she commented that she had never seen one printed on papyrus. I had to confess that I first learned to dive by sucking air through a reed.

Seriously, while I enjoyed the pool time very much, the prospect of possibly diving with my family means a great deal to me. While I hope that we might train next spring and go on the next June trip, we need to see what happens with the Swine Flu, and progression of my MS.. All I can say for now is that I want very much to join you on the HSA trip next June. Please send me information about that trip when you have decided what to do.

Please convey to Carol Jack and the others my great appreciation. They’re wonderful people. Thanks again to you for your support and involvement in HSA.

Sincerely yours,
Tom Smith