Transforming Lives with Adaptive Scuba Therapy (Aired December 17, 2023)

Dive Heart, a unique initiative founded 22 years ago, has been changing lives through the power of adaptive scuba and scuba therapy. This nonprofit organization, spearheaded by Rotarians Jim Elliott and Tina Marie Hernandez, focuses on empowering children, veterans, and others with disabilities. By offering them an opportunity to experience the weightlessness of underwater environments, Dive Heart helps improve their confidence, independence, and self-esteem.

The transformative effect of adaptive scuba diving is profound. For individuals who have spent much of their lives confined to wheelchairs or limited by their disabilities, the experience of standing upright underwater is nothing short of miraculous. Dive Heart doesn’t just offer a temporary escape; it facilitates a shift in perception, enabling participants to see themselves as divers, adventurers, capable of achieving more than they or others might have thought possible.

Beyond the individual benefits, Dive Heart is committed to advancing research and education in the field of adaptive scuba diving. Collaborating with university medical centers worldwide, the organization is exploring the therapeutic benefits of scuba diving, particularly in deep warm water pools. Their ambition is to build the world’s deepest warm water therapy pool in the Chicagoland area, a project estimated to cost between $130 to $150 million. This facility will not only serve as a therapeutic space but also as a center for research, training, and rehabilitation, inviting students, therapists, and professionals to learn and innovate in the realm of adaptive diving.

The initiative is rooted in a deep belief in the transformative power of diving. From aiding pain management and PTSD symptoms to providing a unique form of therapy for individuals with autism, the potential health benefits are vast. Dive Heart’s approach is inclusive, offering programs in pools for those who might not be ready or able to dive in open water. Importantly, these pool programs are offered at no charge, emphasizing the organization’s commitment to accessibility and empowerment.

Dive Heart’s vision extends beyond the individual, aiming to inspire communities and foster a sense of purpose among people of all abilities. By highlighting the stories of participants and volunteers, Dive Heart showcases the profound impact of seeing beyond disabilities to the possibilities that lie within each person. Their work is a testament to the power of community, innovation, and the belief that everyone deserves to experience the joy and freedom of diving into new challenges.

For those interested in supporting Dive Heart’s mission or learning more about their programs, visit Whether it’s through participating in a dive, volunteering, or contributing to their ambitious pool project, there are numerous ways to get involved and help make a difference in the lives of many.


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February 13, 2024 · Posted in Hudson Valley  

Santa’s Visits: Helping Local Food Pantries (Aired December 10, 2023)

In the spirit of giving and community service, Keith O’Hanlon, known for his striking resemblance to Santa Claus, has been making waves across local communities by offering his time as Santa to support food pantries and veterans. His journey into becoming Santa began in 2015 when he was asked to play Santa Claus for a veterans’ Christmas party organized by Angela Flesland. Despite initial hesitations, Keith felt a calling, a destiny to embrace the role, especially after his first interaction with a child at the event, which left a profound impact on him.

Keith’s commitment goes beyond just appearances; he requests donations of non-perishable food items or checks written to the Pleasant Valley Ecumenical Food Pantry as his appearance fee. This initiative has seen him supporting not just veterans but also local food pantries that have been under increased strain since the COVID-19 pandemic, doubling their food distribution efforts to meet the growing need within the community.

Apart from his solo efforts, Keith has enlisted the help of friends who have volunteered to become Mrs. Claus and elves, further enriching the experience for children and adults alike. These volunteers, who also invest their own resources into their costumes, assist Keith in understanding the latest toys and wishes from children, ensuring every child’s request is met with a knowing nod from Santa.

Keith’s unique approach to playing Santa extends to his mode of transportation – a 1970 M35A2 military deuce and a half truck, affectionately named Lucy Deucy, which he uses to deliver the collected food donations. This, along with his Victorian and European-inspired Santa suit, sets him apart from the traditional Coca-Cola image of Santa, aligning more closely with the historical and cultural depictions of Saint Nicholas.

Beyond his Santa duties, Keith is a retired Marine, emphasizing the lifelong commitment and service ethos of the Marines. His work as Santa is an extension of his service, offering joy, hope, and assistance to those in need during the holiday season. Keith’s story is not just about playing a role; it’s about embodying the spirit of giving and community service, making him a true embodiment of Santa Claus.

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February 13, 2024 · Posted in Hudson Valley