Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Dive Pirates Seeing Possibilities for Adaptive Divers


The Dive Pirates Foundation is a non-profit organization working with people with mobility disabilities to teach them to dive. Their slogan is “We no longer see disabilities; we see possibilities.”

They help persons with a range of injuries get into the water through adaptive diving. The foundation covers the recipient’s training and equipment while offering support every step of the way. After proper training, the recipients go on a trip of a lifetime. For 2023, they are heading to Cayman Brac in June and Bonaire in September.

Entering their 19th year, Dive Pirates have 45 chapters across the United States. They have helped 145 recipients (71 former military, 74 civilians) plus their adaptive buddies celebrate life after injury with 10 new Dive Pirates currently scheduled for next year.

Foundation President Tyler Brandes says:

“It gives them a sense of purpose of life after an injury.”

The Dive Pirates annual ball, hosted in February in Houston, is the largest fundraiser of the year. The foundation relies on the generosity of sponsorship and donations year-round to make these life-changing experiences. Dive Pirate memberships directly fund the recipients’ dive equipment.

The goal is to keep the recipients diving as a lifelong adventure.

Tyler says:

“We want them to continue diving with their dive buddy, with their chapter, going on trips, to make this a lifestyle change for them.”

Staff Sargent Scott Dunckel suffers from injuries after clearing supply lines of IEDs as a combat engineer. He started diving with Dive Pirates in 2019.

Dunckel says:

“It’s allowed us the opportunity to learn that I can still do things that I always wanted to, and I have the opportunity to get the rest of the family involved.”

To find out how to support an adaptive diver or to apply to be a Dive Pirate, visit

Nola Schoder
Nola Schoder
Nola discovered her love for breathing underwater in San Diego, CA where she is a regular diver. An underwater photographer, she is rarely diving without her camera as though it has morphed to her being. Being an avid traveler, scuba diving has multiplied her bucket list by infinity so when she’s not looking for a macro critter hidden on the reef, you can be sure she is plotting her next dive adventure.