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Diveheart Sponsors Diving Trip for Gold Star

Diveheart Sponsors Diving Trip for Gold Star Families and Wounded Veterans 4/24/12 Diveheart Foundation of Downers Grove, Illinois hosted a scuba diving trip to the Florida Keys for Gold Star families of fallen troops, and wounded veterans. The trip was made possible due to the generosity of Southwest Airlines which provided round-trip airline tickets as part of its 40th anniversary celebration. Sharing Our Luv with Our Communities. Participants stayed at Ocean Pointe Suites in Key Largo. Diveheart is a not-for-profit organization that provides scuba diving opportunities for children and adults with disabilities, and wounded veterans. The physical, mental and spiritual benefits of scuba are beyond measure. Last year, Diveheart started working with Gold Star families who have lost a loved one in the military. These are parents, spouses, children and siblings of our service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice and their lives have been forever changed, said Jim Elliott, president/founder of Diveheart. Our wounded veterans are facing what may be their new normal which might include missing arms, missing legs, traumatic brain injuries, or loss of vision. The parents are starting what may be their new normal which also includes a painful loss. Its obviously not the same, but they're all facing difficult transitions resulting from immeasurable loss. Participants on the trip have spent the past six months learning how to scuba dive and preparing for the adventure. They spent the time learning from and depending on each other while growing and healing together, Elliott said. Attending the trip, were four Gold Star families from Illinois, a group of Diveheart volunteers including an active Navy corpsman, and three veterans with disabilities; two who are blind and one who is a paraplegic and in a wheelchair. What drew us together for the trip aside from our deep connection to the military is the fact that we have all endured a loss. All of our lives have changed dramatically and irreversibly and we are all seeking to live with what we call our new normal, said veteran Rick Olson who is blind. All of us have a burden to carry but you would not notice any challenge or disability after spending the week seeing, talking and listening to each other. Yes the scuba diving was some of the best that I have done, but was really special was the camaraderie between everyone including the children. We all laughed, cried, and most of all listened to each others stories. A second Gold Star trip will be planned for this fall. This has been such an amazing process, that we're really eager to share the opportunity with additional families, said Elliott. We are so grateful to Southwest Airlines for their generosity and Ocean Pointe Suites in Key Largo for their warm hospitality. For additional information or to view photos from the Gold Star trip, visit www.diveheart.org.

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