News03/22/2010, Theresa Brown Cortez (210) 347-9383
Dive Pirates Ball Rallies "Good To Be Brac" Theme
$50,000 RAISED FOR 9 ADAPTIVE DIVERS TO CAYMAN BRAC
The sixth annual Pirates Ball, the premier fundraiser for the Dive Pirates Foundation held earlier this month at Houston's Downtown Aquarium, defied the economy raising $50,000 to train wounded veterans and civilians to scuba dive, including a trip to Cayman Brac to complete open-water certification.
Hosted by well-known Fox 26 morning anchor Jose Griñan and his daughter Amora, more than 200 people took part in the event that features last year's trip recipients while raising money for the next.
"Because of these people's generosity, and the success of the program, our trip this year is booked with more than 80 people," said foundation co-founder Barbara Thompson. "This year's students, past students and their support or buddy divers, and some of our donors aren't about to miss out on a good time. We committed to fill the resort, and we did it."
Keynote Speaker Nathan Gonzalez, Sergeant USMC (ret.), captured the audience with his personal struggles of recovery after a traumatic accident that left him a quadriplegic; and his new career vision to help build a program for adaptive diving instruction as part of an overall adaptive sports program at Texas State University.
A diver before his accident, Nathan thought he would never dive again. "Learning to dive through this organization made me realize what a skill these instructors have to think differently, to train differently, and reach out beyond themselves," said Gonzalez. "I want to return the favor and help others as I have been helped."
The funds raised at this year's event will be combined with funds raised with local chapters in San Antonio, TX, Buffalo, NY, Albuquerque, NM, Cleveland, OH, Denver, CO, Salt Lake City, UT, Lincoln, NE, Tampa, FL, and Houston, TX. The funds will allow the Dive Pirates to take 9 adaptive divers and their buddies to dive with Reef Divers II at the newly rebuilt Brac Reef Beach Resort on Cayman Brac from June 19-26, 2010.
"After Hurricane Paloma, it truly is ‘good to be Brac,'" said resort owner Mary Brandes, who was recognized at the ball along with her husband, Russ Brandes. "The Dive Pirates are like family, and we wanted to rebuild our resort to make it even more accessible for all our visitors, but especially the dive pirates who come year after year."
Adaptive divers making the trip for the first time to complete their certification include:
- Justin Hendrickson, Petty Officer Third Class, US Navy (ret) Pittsburgh, PA
- Keith Deutsch, Sergeant, US Army (ret) Denver, CO
- Chris Hocker, Salt Lake City, UT
- Kat Weil, Albuquerque, NM
- Paul Rauner, Lincoln, NE
- Matthew Arcadi Tampa, FL
- Keith Clark, Orlando, FL
- David Lofgren, Specialist E4, US Army (ret) San Antonio, TX
- Richard Massimino, Sergeant, USMC (ret) Houston, TX
- Nathan Gonzalez, Sergeant, USMC (ret)
- Leeland Walker, Seaman, US Navy (ret)
- Shawn Unruh, Lance Corporal, USMC (ret)
- Albert Garcia
- Alex Nicoll, PFC, USMC (ret)
- Alan Bailey
- April 10, Music for the Troops, Sam's Burger Joint, San Antonio, TX
- April 17, Davie Jones Locker Challenge, Albuquerque, NM
- May 8, Booty Run, Albuquerque, NM
- For more information about these chapters and upcoming events, please see our Web site at www.divepirates.org.