Diving

Sean Barr, bottom, gets propelled by an instructor of the Dive Pirates during an exploratory dive. 

Pirates will be occupying Huntsville’s Blue Lagoon on Saturday.

Members of Dive Pirates, an organization dedicated to teaching scuba diving to those with disabilities, will be having their fourth annual Underwater Scavenger Hunt and Cutthroat Chili Cook-off at Blue Lagoon, located at 649 Pinedale Road in Huntsville from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The chili cook off will be held in the afternoon.

“We’re a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing scuba diving to persons with disabilities and joining them with mainstream divers,” said Theresa Cortez, spokesperson for Dive Pirates.

Former United States Marine Sean Barr, a quadriplegic, enjoys the therapeutic effects of scuba diving.

“Trying to explain diving to a person that has never done it is like another world,” Barr said. “It’s like I don’t have to fight gravity any more. I feel freedom, peace and serenity from this.”

These Pirates will converge on Blue Lagoon to raise money for injured military veterans as well.

“This scavenger hunt and chili cook-off is going to help support many of our nation’s finest take back control through scuba diving,” said Cortez. “Thousands of dollars in prizes are up for grabs, as well as cash prizes for the best chili, too. There will be chances to win scuba equipment and other apparel, as well a prize for the best tailgate.”

Watching the response of emotions always seem to draw others with disabilities closer.

“When I see the reaction of a first-time diver after they come out of the water for the first is always moving,” Barr said. “We really don’t try and talk about our disabilities that much. Then you see conversations happening and then the tears just flow. It’s an understanding about what it’s really like.”

Barr, a former sniper, now an engineer, feels the Dive Pirates’ proactive approach to diving helps everyone.

“Diving gives an opportunity to gain some control, if only for a little while,” Barr said. “Others with disabilities know each other’s secrets. It really helps to focus your mind.”