Date: November 27- December 5, 2021
Location: The Island of Bonaire
Hosted by: Denver Adaptive Divers, RDF Alliance Member
Dive Trip with Denver Adaptive Divers
In 2020, River Deep Foundation began working with the non-profit Denver Adaptive Divers (DAD)
allowing our clients (veterans and other individuals with disabilities) to Try SCUBA diving in a safe,
supportive environment. DAD has since become part of our alliance of like-minded non-profits who
share, ideas and support and resources.
Clients who participate in a Try SCUBA class are guided through the basics and work one-on-one with
an instructor in the pool to help them get experience breathing underwater. For those who want to
continue diving, they may qualify to join Denver Adaptive Divers on an open water dive trip.
Samuel Hahn, a client of Operation TBI Freedom (another Alliance Member) and River Deep
Foundation did just that.
From November 27- December 5, 2021 a DAD group of 30 traveled to Bonaire, located in the Dutch
islands off the coast of Venezuela. The group consisted of Denver Adaptive Diver participants, dive
buddies and other support staff. While some on the trip suffer with MS or spinal cord injuries sustained in civilian accidents, Samuel is a military veteran and combat medic with the 82nd Airborne Division. He was injured while attached to the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), and was involved in a roll-over accident when an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) exploded next to their vehicle.
In his daily life he struggles with chronic pain, from spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI),
Bipolar 1 disorder, PTSD and migraine headaches. He describes being weightless in the water as a
wonderful way to distract him from the pain and redirect his negative energy. SCUBA diving requires
mindful breathing and disciplined movements that are much like his practice of yoga and meditation
in how they effectively calm and regulate his body.
Through an interview process with Denver Adaptive Divers Hahn was thrilled to quality to go on the
trip and obtain his Open Water Certificate through a scholarship from DAD.
Hahn found his time in the ocean exhilarating! He was mesmerized by the marine life and enjoyed
encountering the diverse and beautiful underwater ecosystems. While he finds the water very calming,
social interaction can be stressful for him, so traveling with a group had its own challenges. He found,
however, that the time with others was healing and the entire trip allowed him to recharge in a way that continues to benefit him upon his return.
Hahn continues to utilize the pool at DAD when he needs to regulate. He looks forward to continuing
with his journey, perhaps becoming a Certified Adaptive Buddy. He has participated in other River Deep Foundation outings like Fly Fishing, Fencing and attending a Wild Game Cooking Class and looks forward to further engagement with the activities and community they offer.
We encourage other RDF clients to Try SCUBA and see if it has the same effect for them! A video of
the participants diving, with a voice-over about their experience can be found at bit.ly/Bonaire2021.