In the short time since SEAKERS Aquatic Adventures registered as a North Carolina non-profit organization, our ministry and outreach has grown beyond our imaginations. We have developed unique partnerships, both locally and nationally; we have put together a leadership team that consists of professionals who bring expertise to all aspects of our operations; and, we have received donations and funding that allow us to continue to expand our programs in ways we had not envisioned when this endeavor first started. Truly God’s hand continues to guide our work. The Open Water Class of 2017 is the perfect example of the many blessings SEAKERS has received.
Beginning in the Spring of 2017, SEAKERS introduced God’s underwater kingdom to a group of 12 students new to the world of scuba diving. Through six NAUI Open Water academic sessions these students developed the fundamental knowledge required to move on to confined water training. With the written test completed, the SEAKERS-in-training then applied their knowledge to actual dive training conducted over two weekends in the swimming pool at the Cannon Branch of the YMCA. After successfully demonstrating the skills required to become competent divers, the class met in the Florida Springs for the completion of Open Water training.
While all of this sounds normal for any Open Water course, what makes this class unique was the makeup of its students. Of the 12 students, four, E.J., Michael, Mathew and Daisy came to us from the Cabarrus County Performance Learning Center. Each of these students received a scholarship that was funded 100% through donations. They also received equipment donated by Open Water Adventures, a scuba shop in Concord, NC. The next four students, the Whitney family, was headed up by 12-year-old Brianna, an adaptive scuba student who lost the use of her legs in an accident a few years earlier. Brianna was accompanied by her 10-year-old brother Jared and her mother and father, Brent and Jennifer.
These eight students represent just a portion of the SEAKERS’ mission. While we do reach out to at-risk youth and the physically handicapped, our focus does not end there. As a way of paying back those who serve our county, our organization also offers its services to members of the US military as well as public servants. In addition, we also offer our courses to families who are looking for new ways to grow closer. Our next four students from the 2017 class are representative of these last two missions. Shane, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard was joined by his 10-year-old daughter, Kaylee while John, a North Carolina law enforcement officer, was joined by his 15-year-old daughter Katherine.
In the end, it was the SEAKERS’ staff that learned the most during this course. Every moment in the water created new forms of inspiration for each of us. Brianna’s ability to adapt to scuba diving brought other divers, who were not even part of our group, to tears. Watching each group learn to work together to accomplish a common goal brought new meaning to the importance of family. When one student struggled, another student, without fail, stepped in to help them along.
S’ class of 2017 not only reminds us why we created this organization, but, most importantly, it shows just how God can move in our lives through fellowship with others. Being a SEAKER does not just mean being a scuba diver; it is about giving back to others so that they also can experience God’s kingdom in a whole new light.