Jim Elliott, the father of two daughters with disabilities and founder of Diveheart.org, changes lives by people with all abilities through scuba diving, scuba therapy and related activities.
Dad To Dad 4 – Jim Elliott: The Story Behind Founding Diveheart.org & Scuba As Therapy
David Hirsch: Hi, I’m David Hirsch. This is the Special Fathers Network Podcast, stories of fathers helping fathers.
Jim Elliott: There are pools in every community, and my thought was we can get people with mobility issues out of their wheelchairs into pools.
David Hirsch: That’s today’s guest, Jim Elliott, the father of a 37-year-old daughter, Erin, who was born blind, and 35 year old daughter, Maureen, who was born with scoliosis. Jim founded a nonprofit group called Diveheart.org. This group helps disadvantaged people change their lives by teaching them to scuba dive in a weightless environment,
Jim Elliott: And it doesn’t matter how deep it is, they’re getting relief from gravity.
David Hirsch: This new aquatic space helps eliminate chronic pain and gives these people a whole new perspective on life.
Jim Elliott: Usually people with chronic spinal cord pain roll up in their wheelchairs on the second day and go, “I’ve been in chronic pain for ten years. This is the first time I’m pain free since my injury.” And it lasts up to three weeks.
Tom Couch: For 21st Century Dads, this is the Special Fathers Network Podcast, stories of fathers helping fathers. Our host is the founder of 21st Century Dads, a man who’s devoted his life to increasing awareness of the importance of being a father and has helped dads to better fulfill their paternal responsibilities. Here’s David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Being a father is very important to me. Being a good father means being a successful role model for your child, helping them be happier, more fulfilled and productive members of society.
I’ve started a number of charitable organizations designed to increase the role of fathers. One of them, the Special Fathers Network, is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. We’ve been interviewing some exceptional fathers of special needs kids, and we want to share their stories with you.
I traveled down to sunny Cozumel, Mexico, to join a quarterly Diveheart.org scuba training program and talk to my friend Jim Elliott. I first asked him to tell us a little bit about his history.
Jim Elliott: Well, I went to Downers Grove North High School, fell in love with journalism, and then went and put myself through school. I went to college in Glen Ellen, Northern Illinois University, where I was recruited by the Chicago Tribune right out of school. Then I went to WGN radio and helped set up a TV station for the Tribune company called CLTV, which at the time was when the cable business was exploding. So you had CNN.
Then I had one in Boston, and then there was one in New York, and then we were like the third one on the playing field. So that was exciting. And yeah, that’s kinda my background, a media guy. Thought I’d be doing that my whole life—and here I am not doing that.
David Hirsch: Well. It’s a lot of twists and turns along the road, and in a good way. What type of relationship did you have with your own dad?
Jim Elliott: With my own dad? My dad was a disabled vet, so I spent a lot of time at Hines VA hospital in Maywood, Illinois, dodging wheelchairs, and it was just fun. I was a kid, I was running around and I saw Dad. I didn’t think anything of it. That was just Dad, right? It didn’t matter that he was in a wheelchair. So that was my first experience with people with disabilities. We grow up, and dads are dads and moms are moms. I was helping him fix cars, and we pulled engines and did all that kind of stuff. And, so yeah, that was kind of our relationship.
David Hirsch: What kind of disability that your dad have?
Jim Elliott: My dad was in a Jeep accident in the army, and they wanted to take his feet off, and he said, “Forget about it.” He said, “Do whatever you gotta do, but you’re not taking my feet.” To his credit, because they eventually figured out a way to put them in braces, ankle, foot orthotic braces. They were very rudimentary at the time, but his feet looked like they had been bludgeoned. I mean, like they took a mallet and just beat the snot out of his feet.
But he eventually walked, and became a millwright at BorgWarner, where they made transmissions and stuff in Bellwood, Illinois. Yeah, he was a mechanical guy and got me into helping him work on cars. Although you can’t do that nowadays.
My parents went through a period where they were divorced, and then they remarried each other. Is that crazy? So my parents divorced when I was five, and remarried at ten. So it was kind of a getting reacquainted period with my dad. And my mom was really social and very good about saying, “Why don’t you go work in the garage with your dad?” You know how dads are, I mean, it’s kind of like you almost got to force him into certain situations. And my mom was really good at that, so yeah. And I got to re-know my dad, and we got very close. It was awesome.
Later on when my great grandmother broke a hip and needed to be put somewhere, there was a deal cut with all the siblings. It said, “Okay, guess what? We’ll give her to Darlene,” my mom, “and we’ll all raise $5,000 for an addition that has to be put on the house.” So it was done, and the deal was, “Great grandmother lives with you forever.”
So I learned very early about being a caregiver. And then later on, my grandmother’s husband died, and I became a caregiver for her when we started Diveheart, the nonprofit that we run. And then now my mother has cancer and I’m a caregiver for her.
David Hirsch: A lot of compassion growing up for people with disabilities. So, let’s talk about your connection to the special needs community. First of all, on a personal level, you’ve mentioned that your daughter Erin was born blind and your daughter Maureen was born with scoliosis. So think back to the first reaction that you had when Erin was born and you learned that she was blind. What was that experience about?
Jim Elliott: Well, when my daughter was born, after a certain period of time, I can’t remember how many months it was or weeks it was, but we realized she wasn’t tracking with her eyes. And so we brought her to the doctor, and the doctor said, “Well, your daughter probably has brain damage.”
And so we of course dealt with that announcement, and then had went through all the barrage of tests that they gave her. And the doctor walked out after the tests and said,” I have good news and bad news. The good news is your daughter does not have brain damage. The bad news is she’s blind.” And I celebrated. I mean, I almost did fist bumps. I went, “Oh yeah, she’s blind. That’s great,” because….
David Hirsch: Your expectations were over here, right? And now you’re here.
Jim Elliott: What I can do with a blind kid or a kid in a wheelchair or a kid with no legs…I mean, physical and cognitive disabilities is what we deal with at Diveheart. It’s a complexity issue that in my twenties I didn’t even know how to deal with. And so I celebrated the fact that I got a blind kid. I can do pretty much anything with that.
David Hirsch: And when Maureen was born, was it right away that you knew that there was an issue?
Jim Elliott: No, she developed scoliosis over time. Scoliosis is when her spinal cord was actually curving into her heart, and she would have died had we not had surgery. We brought her to Shriner’s hospital. I was a Lion, the service organization that helps people who are blind and deaf and things, through my daughter, of course.
And then when I met some of those guys, I started talking about my daughter with scoliosis, and they said, “Well, your daughter needs to come to Shriners Hospital.” I go, “I don’t know anything about Shriners Hospital.” So I went there, and all of a sudden my daughter’s in Shriners Hospital there. I made a donation. They straighten your spine out. And it was amazing. And I said, “These guys do incredible things.”
So to become a Shriner, you have to become a Mason. I didn’t know anything about Masonry. I became a Mason and went through Scottish Rite, and then became a Shriner. And I helped them as much as I could in the media business, getting them PSAs and doing that kind of work, because they do just selfless, incredible things, as do all the service organizations I’ve been with out there.
David Hirsch: So how old was Maureen when she went to Shriners and had the surgery?
Jim Elliott: I want to say she was 11, but I don’t recall exactly. But we spent weeks in there where she got this surgery, and slept in there, and got to know a lot of people. And when I started Diveheart, actually Shriners was the first group I went to, because I knew a lot about people with spinal cord injuries. And I’d been around therapists and PTs and OTs and rehab docs.
And I went to them, and I said, “I have this idea. I want to start this nonprofit called Diveheart, and I want to take kids with spinal cord injuries and get them out of their wheelchairs and get them in the water and give them freedom. What do you think?” They’re like, “Where do we sign up?” They were very excited about it. We’ve probably done, I don’t know, 20 plus trips.
David Hirsch: Excellent. So, what was the like with the girls’ schooling? Erin had different, challenges than Maureen did. Erin was diagnosed at a much earlier age than Maureen was. So talk a little bit about Erin’s school experience early on, and then as she progressed, and then Maureen as well.
Jim Elliott: Yeah. Erin’s eyes never learned to track. Her eyes darted back and forth. I might get this wrong, but I think it’s astigmatism or something like that, where her eyes dart back and forth. And so of course, when she left her cloistered little protective blind class where all the teachers and aides loved her, and her friends loved her, and the parents were always there, and she went to a sighted class and she had recess, the kids who would look at her eyes and go, “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with your eyes?” And she could technically read a two inch letter about a half an inch from her right eye. So she said, “Dad, I can read. Why are they making fun of me?” And they were teasing her.
I tried to raise all my kids to be independent, and I rued that day when they became teenagers. All of us who have raised teenage kids, you know what I’m talking about. But she said, “I don’t want to be blind anymore.” She threw down her cane and refused to learn Braille.
I was at WGN radio. I was telling everyone I knew, “I don’t know what to do with this kid.” And finally one of the announcers, Floyd Brown, said, “I’m going to hook you up with a guy who started a blind ski program, who is blind himself, the American Blind Skiing Foundation.
And after a couple of weeks, she went back to school, and they said, “Well, what’d you do this weekend, Erin?” And she said, “Well, I went skiing.” And they go. “Right. You went skiing, and you’re blind. How do you do that?” This is in the eighties. And she goes, “No, here’s the pictures.” And they’re like, “Oh my God, that is so cool. You’re blind. How do you ski? That is so cool.”
All of a sudden a paradigm shift occurred. It became Erin the skier instead of Erin the blind kid. So as a dad, I’m going, “This is a win,” because now I’ve got my daughter involved in something that gives her self esteem, confidence, and independence.
I skied every weekend, every weekend from the time I got her involved to the time I handed off her skis to her husband and said, “She’s yours now.” And of course when I did that, they quit skiing it, right? But anyway, I did my due diligence. And even times when she was a teenager and saying, “I don’t want to get out of bed,” I go, “You’re getting out of bed, because you need to inspire others. You’ve benefited from this. Don’t be selfish.” So she got that.
David Hirsch: That’s an awesome story. Thanks for sharing. So, recall Maureen’s experience at school. Were there any challenges or issues as it relates to the surgery that she had?
Jim Elliott: Maureen was very confident, very early on. In fact, Erin met her husband because he wanted to take Maureen on a date to prom, and Maureen said, “No, I’m not going with you to prom. I’m going with somebody else, but you’re taking my sister.” I mean, she didn’t even ask. She just said, “You’re taking my sister.” So she had no problems at all. She’s a very compassionate, very sympathetic, is a minister now, and very loving.
David Hirsch: That’s a very interesting story. This young guy, what’s your son-in-law’s name?
Jim Elliott: David.
David Hirsch: And David was interested in dating Maureen, but Maureen says, “Nope, you’re taking my sister.”
Jim Elliott: Exactly.
David Hirsch: That led to the beginning of their relationship. They’ve been married for the better of 20 years. And they have one son. That’s fabulous.
So let’s switch from your personal experience with your daughters and the special needs community to what I call your professional experience. Moving from for-profit to a not-for-profit career. So what was it that motivated you to leave what I think is a cushy job in the for-profit world, in the media industry with one of the premier companies in the country, to starting a not-for-profit, Diveheart.org?
Jim Elliott: In some ways, what I’ve seen happen to the media business, I’m glad that I got out when I did. But at the time I was doing very well. I left a six figure income to start Diveheart. I don’t draw a salary. When I was a journalist, a student journalist, I took scuba diving in college, because I thought, “If you’re of a certain age, you need to know who Jack Cousteau is. If I have to interview someone like Jack Cousteau, I better know how to scuba dive.” So I took scuba diving as another arrow in my quiver.
David Hirsch: That was your motivation.
Jim Elliott: That was total. I had no interest. I was all career oriented. All journalism. All vocational. Thank God, I didn’t do my open water dives in a quarry. I did them in the Keys, and I went, “Oh my God, this is amazing. This is like being an astronaut.” And I fell in love with it and decided I wanted to be an instructor.
Of course, I got married, and that derailed that whole idea for a while. But I did continue to dive when I had an opportunity while raising four kids, and then at some point when the kids were grown and gone, and I was divorced, I thought, I can keep making money for the man. Return on stockholder’s investment was our mantra at the Tribune company, as it is with most companies.
And I said, “Or I can go try to do in diving what I’ve been doing in skiing.” Because there are only certain times of the year you can ski and only in certain places. But there are pools in every community. And my thought was we can get people with mobility issues out of their wheelchairs and into the pools. And it doesn’t matter how deep it is, they’re getting relief from gravity. And that was my thought.
And so I decided to start a nonprofit. I had trained some lawyers who I went to, and I got this crazy idea. I want to start a nonprofit called Diveheart, thinking of Braveheart with Mel Gibson, that movie. And I thought, “The logo can’t be available. It has to be taken.” And they go, “Let me do a check,” and our lawyers at Schiff Hardin, God bless them, since 2000 they’ve been watching our back.
They said, “We’ve done a background check; the logo’s available. We’ve talked to our partners, and we’re going to do your 501(c)3 incorporation pro bono.” I went, “Oh my God.” And they go, “Go out and start raising money, because you can.” And I’m like, “That’s all I needed.”
David Hirsch: Green light.
Jim Elliott: Right. Exactly. So the first four years that I was in this, I didn’t talk to any of my friends in the media business, because I did not want to create more demand than I could fulfill. I trained instructors and buddies and friends to help support me. And then once I had critical mass, I started reaching out to media, creating demand, and then it just perpetuated, and now we’re worldwide.
When we started a nonprofit to help people with mobility issues, we no idea that we would be helping people with autism and Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, PTSD. We’ve done research with university medical centers like Midwestern University. We did the first study on autism and scuba therapy.
We’re working with Northwestern University now in Chicago. John Hopkins went with one of our teams to the Cayman islands, which you’re familiar with, and they did a study with a bunch of veterans on PTSD and pain management, and found that 80% of PTSD symptoms are alleviated if you get them deep enough—three atmospheres, 66 feet.
Then usually on the second day, people with chronic spinal cord pain roll up in their wheelchairs and go, “I’ve been in chronic pain for ten years. This is the first time I’m pain free since my injury.” And it lasts up to three weeks.
So one of our goals is to build a deep warm water facility in the Chicagoland area. Because it’s very wheelchair accessible for people with disabilities. We think the center of the country is a great location. And so we’re talking to people now about building a deep warm water therapy people to revolutionize rehabilitation in the world.
David Hirsch: So what’s your vision for that?
Jim Elliott: Well, it’s to do exactly that. It’s to create this paradigm shift where you have an unrealized human potential that exists in people with disabilities. I believe one out of five people in the country, in the world, have a disability, so that’s a big constituency. When you add family and friends and coworkers and neighbors and people that just want to help, there’s a lot of people that want to support that population.
So you create that paradigm shift. Right now, it’s not Johnny in a wheelchair anymore. It’s Johnny the scuba diver. Right? So now he goes, “God, if I can scuba dive, what else can I do?” He wants to take on other challenges. And what we want to do is point them in the direction of being good stewards of our environment, right?
God knows we need good stewards of our environment right now. I’m not an environmentalist, but I do know what’s going on. And I think if we could get people with disabilities in great numbers focusing on our environment, spending sedentary time on computers and doing research, and then getting in the water with teams that could help them do coral reef restoration and marine biology and oceanography. Those kinds of things can change the environment
And multiply that times a million. If we have a facility that could get a million people in a year doing that, that will just extrapolate, and we’ll build a facility that can be replicated around the world. That’s the goal.
So if we have 50 in the US and 100 worldwide, and all of a sudden in every community there’s a facility where we can replicate the benefits of open water deep. The guys from Duke. When I presented it at grand rounds at Duke University Medical Center, they said, “Jim, you’re not a doctor or a therapist, so be careful how you talk about hyperbaric medicine.”
But there are benefits to pressure. I mean, kids with autism, it’s an epidemic. Pressure is a therapy. Any dad or mom that has a kid with autism know that they have pressure vests and weighted blankets in sensory deprivation rooms. And diving does that. It takes away surface distractions. That ambient pressure helps him feel in his zone.
I’ve had kids that I thought were nonverbal, and they’re scared, and the teacher’s going, “You’re not going to be able to do this with Diveheart if you don’t calm down, Johnny.” And all of a sudden they go down, come up 20 minutes later, and go, “I really enjoyed that. I’ll have to try it again.” And your mouths are falling open and going, “Is this the same kid that got in the water with me?” But with autism and a lot of cognitive disabilities, you’ve got to find that person inside, and this helps us do that.
David Hirsch: Yeah. That’s just an amazing story.
Jim Elliott: And the thing is too, not only do you help the person and his family, but they have a sphere of influence. So they help their neighbors. All of a sudden they see the kid in the wheelchair? [Tearing up] You knew you were going to get me here. Doing amazing things, and that helps the community.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, you’re changing lives or transforming lives. It’s very powerful. Even in the week that I’ve been here on the Diveheart.org quarterly training, scuba training, that you do for buddy diving, advanced buddy diving. There’s two adaptive divers here.
And the training that you put people through—it has a lot to do with empathy, right? So I’m role playing as a blind person. I’m role playing as quadriplegic. I’m role playing as a paraplegic. And you can’t walk away from that experience and be the same person. So the people that have those experiences are also transformed. So it’s not just transforming the lives of people with disabilities, but typical people with abilities.
Jim Elliott: Right.
David Hirsch: So we all know that it’s just enhancing people’s lives all around. It’s very powerful.
Jim Elliott: Yeah. There’s a lot of families and dads that are raising kids with obesity issues too. And I have run into this where some people say, “Well, that’s not a disability. It’s a choice.” In my book…when my parents were divorced, I went through a period where I was very sad, depressed. Ate a lot. Got heavy. So it’s emotional. It’s a lot of things going on there.
And one of our goals is to do a documentary, and we want to call it “Weightless.” And we want to take kids who are struggling with obesity issues, and we want them to tell their backstories and watch their challenges, and have them come out of the water in a place like Cozumel going, “I’m a diver!”
Here’s some kid on the other side of the country, sitting in a chair, going, “You know what? If he can do it, or she can do it, I can do it, cause they’re fatter than me.” That’s exactly what they’ll say. And you know what it’ll do. It’ll inspire them to get off that couch and do something.
David Hirsch: Like we’re trying to inspire dads.
Jim Elliott: Yes.
David Hirsch: And others to be a little bit more intentional about the relationships. You told me unbelievable story about, I think it was a woman who’s a quadra amputee?
Jim Elliott: Yes. Ana, from Houston
David Hirsch: No arms. No legs. What was the backstory on that person? What did they do with Diveheart?
Jim Elliott: She was born with no arms and no legs. When I met her, she was involved in the coordination of new patients to Shriners Hospital in Houston. She gave me a tour of the hospital one time. It was really funny. She was talking to me and she said, “What do you know? You’re a TABI.” And I go, “What’s a TABI?” I had never heard that term before. And she said, “Temporarily Able-Bodied Individuals.”
And my mouth dropped open. I went, “Oh my God, we’re all TABIs.” If you get up and put your pants on in the morning and you’re vertical, you’re a TABI, because eventually someone’s taking you down.
David Hirsch: Whether it’s mental or physical or injury. So that perspective shifted for you.
Jim Elliott: Yeah. We’re trying to get TABI pins actually made now. Yeah, she’s quite a person. She inspires a lot of people. She was Ms. Wheelchair Texas a number of years ago
David Hirsch: Sounds like she has quite a personality.
Jim Elliott: Yeah. Ana Calvo, amazing.
David Hirsch: So there was somebody you were talking about earlier this week, I think his name was Robert. What’s the back story on Robert’s situation, or some of the things that you helped him do?
Jim Elliott: Probably as a parent, Robert’s story is just a nightmare. Robert at ten was picked up on a playground by bullies and turned upside down, and his head was driven into the concrete. Resulting in a C5 spinal cord injury, incomplete injury. So he had some movement in his arms and legs. Complications from that led to an aneurysm and a stroke. So Robert is one messed up dude, right?
We met him at the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education in Chicago. And we did several pool programs, and he came with us to the Keys a couple of times. And then in May this year, we brought him here to Cozumel, and because he had some leg movement, I made the dive masters that were working with him bring him down at the last dive day on a nice sandy flat. It was a mild current, and I got him nice and vertical where he was standing, and he was able to, with his breath control, look like he was walking on the moon.
And I have some film editors that have helped me, and they edited in some Neil Armstrong footage where Neil Armstrong says, “The gravity on the moon is cooler than the gravity in the space capsule where your toothpaste is floating away from you.” You know what I mean? And then also on earth where you’re a slave to gravity really. On the moon, if you moved a little and jumped a little, you’d go up a few feet and come be able to come down.
And underwater we can do that with our breath. The environment’s 800 times denser than air. But with scuba, we can get them weighted properly and allow them to become astronauts here. I don’t know if we call that their astronaut moment. And they become aquanauts, which is very similar to being an astronaut. And we had him running. I filmed him for eight straight minutes, swimming backwards.
David Hirsch: You were swimming backwards.
Jim Elliott: I was swimming backwards, videotaping him, watching him run across this sandy flat, and bounce up, and look like he was going to fall on his face, but then use his breath to come back and control his buoyancy. It’s amazing.
Robert: In this video I’m 30 feet under the ocean surface, walking without objects holding the me up, for the first time in over a decade. It’s an incredible experience that I never imagined that I would have totally have.
Jim Elliott: I want every occupational therapist and physical therapist and rehab doc in the world to see that, because they’ll sign up for scuba therapy in two seconds if they see that video.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous.
Jim Elliott: So for the last 10 years, you have been in a wheelchair for the most part, right? You have not been vertical, right? Like this?
Robert: Right. For the last 13 plus years.
Jim Elliott: 13 plus years. Okay. You’re on the bottom, your feet are touching, you’re using your breath to control your buoyancy. What’s it like?
Robert: I’ve never been out of the Earth’s gravitational pull, but I would have to liken it to being in space, like on the moon,
Jim Elliott: Weightlessness.
David Hirsch: So what advice can you share with dads, or parents for that matter, who like yourself helped raise two special needs kids, to help them reach their full potential? So it’s looking from a dad’s perspective, and perhaps from a not-for-profit leader’s perspective.
Jim Elliott: Erin had a lot of friends with disabilities, and I saw a lot of parents be over protective. And I think that that handicapped, if you will, or crippled—which is not a politically correct term—but they crippled their children by being over protective. I’m not saying throw caution to the winds. I’m saying get smart about your kid and their disabilities and know their limitations, but push the envelope a little bit and make them as independent as they can be based on their abilities.
If they’re in a wheelchair, and they don’t have a cognitive disability, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be out there doing everything that you could possibly do. If they have a cognitive disability, assess their abilities, and then put them in what is safe, and supervise legitimate programs that will help them. Get involved yourself, because the rewards are amazing. Had I not guided in top line skiers for decades before I did this, I wouldn’t be in the position to start Diveheart.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. So why was it that you agreed to be a mentor father as part of the Special Fathers Network?
Jim Elliott: Because of you. You were inspiring. I love the concept of what you’re doing. I think it’s amazing. And fathers that are willing to be there, we want to give them as many tools as we can to be successful.
David Hirsch: And you’re in a unique situation for another reason, which is there was a point in time that you were divorced, right? So you’re not living with your kids, and that shouldn’t be an obstacle for maintaining a full engagement. While not physically there, you need to be financially there, emotionally there, spiritually there with your kids.
Jim Elliott: I’m blessed in that I didn’t divorce until my kids were grown and gone. But I understand that fathers that have to go through that, and do the sharing weekends thing, it’s very challenging. I would say maximize those moments. I know there’s a lot of politics and games that go on, playing mom against dad, and things like that. And I’m not one to speak to that, but I know that goes on.
And I just would say, make every moment count, and make them as independent as you possibly can. There’s a tendency probably…if I were a dad who had kids that were split, I would probably want to just throw caution to the winds and spoil them and make them everything and give them everything.
And in my mind, personally, that would be a huge mistake. I would want my kids to be independent. And they will go, “Oh, mom lets me do this, or do that, or whatever.” I go, “Well that’s great. But I want you to be everything you can be. Isn’t that what you want?” And they’re going to probably say yes.
And different dads have different communication skills. But there are other dads that can help support them. I’m happy to talk to any dad, to help talk them through that kind of stuff, because it’s not easy. It’s challenging.
David Hirsch: You realize when you have children, how quickly the time goes. I know you blink, they’re in school, you blink, they’re in high school, you blink again, they’re in college or beyond. And then you’re sort of looking back wondering, “Wow, what was that all about?” You don’t want to ever look back and say, “Coulda, woulda, shoulda.”
Jim Elliott: Right. Exactly.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. So is there anything else you’d like to share before we wrap up?
Jim Elliott: I would encourage dads listening to this to go to diveheart.org, our website, and click on the media button. There’ll be a recent media, and there’ll be the media kit. And just click on some of those images. NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and CNN and PBS did a documentary.
There’s a lot of testimonials of children that are not in perfect family situations, that come out going, “This is amazing what it’s done for me.” And might not be diving. It might not be zero gravity, or physical therapy and zero gravity. It might be horseback riding, it might be skiing, it might be something else.
Special Olympics are amazing, and we collaborate with a lot of those organizations. So I would say, “Make them independent, give them a lot of kudos, give them a lot of experiences, and don’t be afraid to call.”
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. Jim thank you for the time and many insights. As a reminder, Jim’s just one of the many dads who has agreed to be a mentor father as part of the Special Fathers Network, a mentoring program for fathers raising a child with special needs. If you’d like to be a mentor father, or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own, please go to 21stcenturydads.org.
Thanks again Jim.
Jim Elliott: Thank you for starting 21st Century Dads!
David Hirsch: And thank you for listening to this Special Fathers Network Podcast. The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Again, if you’d like to be a mentor father, or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own, please go to 21stcenturydads.org. I’m David Hirsch, and thanks for listening to the Special Father’s Network Podcast.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network podcast was produced for 21st Century Dads by Couch Audio. To find out more about 21st Century Dads, go to 21stcenturydads.org.