Friday, June 18, 2010

2010 Eels on Wheels & Gridiron Heroes Adventure

The Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation was formed in 2003 with a specific mission to provide immediate, as well as, long term resources and support to individuals sustaining catastrophic spinal cord injury through activities associated with high school football.   Gridiron Heroes has provided invaluable support for many families who have found themselves in this life-changing situation.

On June 18, 2010, the Eels on Wheels and two members of the Gridiron Heroes will travel to Bonaire, a small island near Aruba that is one of the world's premiere diving locations. By providing the experience and expertise of training and diving with people with disabilities, Eels on Wheels hopes that the injured athletes will enjoy an experience that goes beyond just a vacation, inspiring and encouraging them to continue striving for a full and active life.

If you would like to support the 2010 Eels on Wheels / Gridiron Heroes adventure, please contact Kyle Walsh or Chad Dieterichs, or consider sending a donation to:

Eels on Wheels
13416 Anarosa Loop
Austin, TX 78727

***The Eels on Wheels Adaptive Scuba Program is a registered 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that  provides people the opportunity to dive at their own ability level by certifying divers through the Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA). All donations to the Eels on Wheels are 100% tax-deductible.

Eels on Wheels is excited about the opportunity to have the Gridiron Heroes together for a fun, relaxing,
inspiring, and adventurous week in Bonaire! Thank you for supporting this dream!

Also, please leave comments for the Eels or for the two newest Eels on Wheels SCUBA divers, Josh & Devin.  Thank you!

About the 2010 EOW-GIH Trip to Bonaire

Living in a wheelchair does not crush a young man’s desire to pursue a life of adventure, fun, and excitement. On June 18, 2010, the Eels on Wheels Adaptive SCUBA Club ( plans to take injured athletes supported by the Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation ( on a life-changing week-long adventure to go SCUBA diving off the Caribbean island of Bonaire.

Before their injuries, the Gridiron Heroes were young athletes who loved being active and playing the game of football. Even with their disabilities, they still desire to live a full and exciting life.  Being able to enjoy an active sport such as SCUBA diving is proven to improve a person’s self-image and confidence, inspiring them to strive for greater success in both their personal and professional lives.

Besides the thrill and accomplishment of SCUBA diving, traveling with the Eels will allow the Gridiron Heroes to bond with many successful people who face similar challenges. It is common on an Eels trip for people to learn several new ideas (or tricks) to dealing with life as a quadriplegic such as how to deal with daily routines, new ideas for equipment, and new exercise techniques for staying in shape. Even if they were together in a place without the amazing scenery and without the diving, this time shared together would be a lasting treasure.

The special thing about the Eels on Wheels is that they provide all the resources necessary to enjoy a SCUBA diving adventure. They have experienced SCUBA instructors that train and certify people with disabilities. There is a team of medical professionals that travel with the groups to ensure any and all medical needs are taken care of. Each disabled diver will be matched with two trained and experienced dive buddies to provide a safe, fun, and relaxing experience underwater.

Dr. Chad Dieterichs, president of the Eels on Wheels, will be leading the trip to Bonaire. He has been with the Eels on Wheels since its beginning years, and has taken hundreds of people with disabilities diving around the world. Chad is an anesthesiologist in Austin and takes great measures to make sure everyone has an exciting but safe trip.

Bonaire is known worldwide for its ease of diving and for the amazing variety of marine life.  The dive boats have a large platform in the back where a person with a disability can safely sit at water-level to enter the water, and the resort's dive staff is trained and very experienced in working with people with disabilities. The fact that Continental Airlines flies directly from Houston to Bonaire makes traveling there extremely easy, even with the added logistics involved in traveling with a disability. All in all, a trip to Bonaire is the perfect choice for this adventure!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

EOW Trip to Roatan: 30 seconds of memories

Just a little teaser for our upcoming trip!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Discover SCUBA

On December 12, 2009, Eels instructors introduced three new divers to the sport of SCUBA diving!

Devon Hebert stayed under for over an hour, showing off his quarterbacking skills by throwing the underwater torpedoes. He (with the help of his buddy who was sharing his air), stayed down long enough to suck an entire tank of air, always an impressive feat at a Discover SCUBA!

Nat Little was amazingly quick to master the art of clearing the pressure in your ears. He seemed incredibly comfortable in the water and obviously has the tools to be a great SCUBA diver!

Josh Schueling can absolutely swim like a fish! A pool is just not big enough for him, so it is time for him to get certified and be set free in the ocean!

Everyone involved in this event had a great time and, as always, it was special to see the smiles on the faces of new divers when they came to the surface. Several other Gridiron Heroes were unable to make it for various reasons, but are excited to try it out at the next event. We can't wait for them to experience the magical sport of SCUBA diving!

Letter from Kyle Walsh for EOW-GIH 2010 Adventure

Dear football fans and SCUBA fanatics everywhere,
As a former athlete who is now a quadriplegic and football coach, I am excited to tell you about the efforts of two organizations to make a life-changing impact in the lives of some very special young men. I know firsthand how awesome it is for someone with a disability to enjoy the beautiful, weightless world underwater through SCUBA diving. I am thrilled about the upcoming adventure (June 18-26) in which the Eels on Wheels Adaptive SCUBA Club will be taking injured athletes supported by the Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation to the island of Bonaire to enjoy a week of SCUBA diving, adventure, first-time experiences, encouragement, bonding, and fun.

Although I was not injured on the playing field, I do share some common experiences with the Gridiron Heroes' injured athletes. I was a walk-on football player at the University of Texas when I broke my neck in a car accident in 1992, the day after my nineteenth birthday. I am now a C-6/7 quadriplegic and have used my wheelchair for the past 18 years. In 2006, I married my lovely wife Audra, I am an offensive line coach and special education teacher at A&M Consolidated High School, and whenever I get the chance I love to travel around the world to go SCUBA diving.

Like the Gridiron Heroes, when I broke my neck I was a young athlete who loved being active and playing the game of football. There have definitely been times when it seemed impossible to regain a sense of adventure in my life. Thankfully, I have been incredibly blessed with many opportunities that allow me to have a very full life. One of those blessings happened when I was presented with the opportunity to go SCUBA diving with the Eels on Wheels in 1998. Being able to enjoy an active sport with friends and now with my wife (she was certified in 2008) is extremely meaningful to me.

I cannot tell you how excited I am about this opportunity for the injured athletes who are able to make this trip! As a quadriplegic, I know how valuable it has been for me to be given opportunities to enjoy an active and exciting life. As a coach, I know how much I care for my players and my heart reaches out to these young men, too. I cannot wait to see the smiles on their faces after an exciting and adventurous week in Bonaire!

See you underwater!
Kyle Walsh
4428 Spring Meadows Drive
College Station, TX 77845

Letter from Tammie Shelton for EOW-GIH 2010 Adventure

I am honored to be a supporter of the Gridiron Heroes Bonaire Adventure. Over the past ten years, I have committed a portion of my time, talent, and treasure to ensure that the Eels on Wheels adaptive divers are provided with an experience of a lifetime.

My name is Tammie Shelton, and I am the Executive Director for Camp Aranzazu, a not-for-profit organization in Rockport Texas. Our mission is to enrich the lives of children and adults with chronic
illnesses and disabilities by providing unique camping experiences, environmental studies, and retreat experiences to groups with special needs. We provide traditional camp experiences for non-traditional campers. In other words, at Camp Aranzazu, the blind make bulls-eyes at the archery range, the deaf line-dance, and guests with paraplegia climb our 40’ tower and zip into a world of “Yes, I can”.

I have been a SCUBA instructor for the Eels for over 10 years,and have been blessed by the experiences held underwater with my disabled friends. Through my diving with the Eels members and my understanding of adapting programs for Camp Aranzazu campers, I know first-hand the difference that adventure experiences can make in the life of someone with a disability. These experiences go far beyond the actual event – they provide life-changing improvements to the physical, social, mental, physical, and emotional aspects of every person involved. We may not be able to cure a broken body, but we certainly can help mend a broken spirit! I also know how respectfully and carefully the Eels members plan every aspect of the trips. I am looking forward to traveling with the group and know without a doubt that a week in Bonaire will change the lives forever of the Gridiron Heroes, Eels on Wheels members, and everyone else we meet!

Please do not hesitate to call me if you have specific questions about SCUBA training, our trips, or any other detail of diving with a disability. I am here for you.

“Sea” you soon!
Tammie Shelton
203 Blanco Drive
Portland TX 78374