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A Lifetime Dream Fulfilled

Discussion in 'Divers with Disabilities' started by Tom Smedley, Feb 24, 2005.

  1. Tom Smedley

    Tom Smedley Tommy ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives:
    Location: Montgomery, AL
    When I was asked to come to the Montgomery Therapeutic Recreation Center to do an I Tried Scuba with a blind fellow I was really sceptical.

    When I met him - I knew right off that it was a good thing.

    Ross is fifty-seven years old and glaucoma stole his eyesight seven years ago. He fought a long battle but he was diagnosed too late and the damage was irreversible. Ross served in Viet Nam in the 173 Airborne Division. He carried the "Pick" also known as an M-60 heavy machine gun.

    He developed an interest in diving as a young boy watching episodes of Sea Hunt. Where have I heard that before? Thank you LLoyd.

    After an orientation, Ross jumped right in. Nervous at first but as soon as his hands hit the bottom of the pool he was oriented. He scooted all over that pool by feeling the bottom contour. Only stopping for a few minutes to describe his adventure to Occupational Therapy Students from Alabama State University, Ross was ready to go again. This time more relaxed.

    Lane Weitman, his recreational therapist, played games with him. Lane would toss a rubber covered brick into Ross's path and Ross would find it and hand it back. One funny part came when Ross stumbled over my scuba tank that I had left on the bottom. He felt that thing all over wondering where it came from.

    I asked Ross if he would like to be a member of our Search and Recovery team. He beamed and said "Sure!" I related to him that divers in limited visibility situations have to go by feel too. He found that interesting and intriguing.

    Ross told me there are two skills that I could forget in his class - He didn't seem too interested in wasting time defogging his mask or in learning hand signals.

    Ross related that when he almost gave up the will to live when he lost his eyesight. He credits the crew at the Alabama Blindness Center in Birmingham to "turning his attitude around" and helping him enjoy life again. He has five children and six grandchildren, the youngest three-weeks old.

    He enjoys playing with his grandchildren, reading with the help of a Port Reader, and swimming. He told us of his many gadgets that help him make it thought the day. A talking watch and calculator plus a scanner that he can scan a barcode and it tells him the item name and price that he is shopping for.

    Ross - You're a hell of a guy! Hoo Ah!

    Tom Smedley

    PS - In the picture meet ross on the left and Lane on the right.

  2. H2Andy

    H2Andy Blue Whale

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: NE Florida

    way to go, man
  3. Drewpy

    Drewpy Orca

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: No. California
    Very cool Tom!
    What a great story-my hats off to you!
    Hoo-Ah to you as well!
  4. Uncle Pug

    Uncle Pug Swims with Orca ScubaBoard Supporter

    Wonderful Tom. I've always figured if I ended up blind I would still enjoy scuba. I hope Ross continues!
  5. Snowbear

    Snowbear NOK ScubaBoard Supporter

    What a fantastic idea!!
  6. The Great Orca

    The Great Orca Nassau Grouper

  7. BigJetDriver

    BigJetDriver Great White Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter


    That was a truly heart-warming story! It truly made my day better. Congratulations to Ross, and to you, and thank you for sharing that moment of enjoyment.

    Rob Davie
  8. crpntr133

    crpntr133 lost, even with a compass

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: West Central Indiana
    Great post!!! Now all we need to read about is Matt the Wonder Boy underwater!
  9. Matt the Aquaman

    Matt the Aquaman Great White

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Woodbury, MN
    Hi Tom, that was cool to read about. Good for you and Ross! It's always nice to hear about people accomplishing a scuba diving dream! And turning their life around. Hopefully I will be diving soon also.

    Take care and safe diving.

    Click here to greet a new member!
    No experience needed and it feels great!
  10. Tom Smedley

    Tom Smedley Tommy ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives:
    Location: Montgomery, AL
    Thanks Matt

    Check under Scuba Tales and Yarns. I did the long version of the story as a Tales of the Brass Bottle Opener and titled it Ross.

    I hope you can dive soon too...


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