Newsmakers Making A Difference: Jim Elliot, Diveheart

Julie Mann
July 24, 2018 - 7:50 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Diveheart is taking people with disabilities to new heights by taking them to new depths, underwater. 

Jim Elliot is the founder and President of the Diveheart charitable foundation, "that helps veterans and children and others with disabilities build confidence, independence and self esteem through scuba therapy."   

Diveheart trains people with disabilities at various pools in the suburbs. WBBM Newsradio caught up with Elliot at a hotel pool in Downers Grove with two military veterans who have benefited from his underwater therapy.   

Chris McCanathan is a double amputee and has post traumatic stress disorder. 

"I can take the prosthetics off and not feel like I'm not disabled, in a sense," McCanathan said.  "I served in Afghanistan and have super PTSD from that." 

WBBM Newsradio/Julie Mann

Elliot said scuba therapy helps kids with autism, people with pain management and finds relief for veterans like McCanathan who suffer from anxiety brought on by PTSD. 

"What we've seen is tremendous benefits in many areas.  It's physical therapy in zero gravity.  The ambient pressure pressure helps kids with autism. If you get to 66 feet underwater there is an extra output of Serotonin in the body and that helps with pain management and anxiety," Elliot said.

Diveheart has also help veteran David Garner who lost part of his leg to a heart condition. 

"I learned you can do anything you want to do, even if you have a disability," he said.

WBBM Newsradio/Julie Mann

Elliot said they want the people they are teaching to experience what he calls the Astronaut moment. 

"And that's where they are hovering whether they are 10 feet under water or 100 feet underwater they breathe in and they go up and they exhale and they go down and they they are neutrally buoyant."

Once the participant learns how to scuba dive, they have an opportunity to use their new skills on a trip to places like Key Largo or Cozumel. Learn more about the Diveheart program on their website. 

As WBBM celebrates its 50th anniversary as Newsradio, this year we’ll be honoring 50 Newsmakers making a difference in the community.  Listen for reports each Tuesday.

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