Dive Pirates hosting fundraiser for veterans

Joshua Yates/The Huntsville ItemThe Dive Pirates Foundation will be hosting their fifth annual Cutthroat Chili Cook-off and Underwater Scavenger Hunt on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Huntsville’s premiere diving spot, The Blue Lagoon. 

The Dive Pirates Foundation and Huntsville’s premiere diving spot, The Blue Lagoon, are teaming up once again for their one of a kind diving experience — the fifth annual Cutthroat Chili Cook-off and Underwater Scavenger Hunt on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“This is our fifth year and we’re very excited. The Blue Lagoon is a wonderful place for any divers in the area to get their open water certification,” Theresa Cortez, director of communications, said. “The Blue Lagoon is a great host and five years ago we decided to get together with some of our Dive Pirate friends and have a scavenger hunt.”

The event is open to the community and cost $20 for divers and non-divers and $20 to enter the chili cook-off. Children under the age of 10 are free.

All participants must pay the park entry fee of $17 on site. Those interested in participating, can go online to the Dive Pirates website to register, but must do so quickly, online registration closes at 5 p.m. today. However, if you are not able to register online in time, there will be registration the day of the event.

The goal behind the event is to help introduce adaptive scuba diving to injured veterans and other with mobile disabilities. All proceeds raised during the event will go toward a special diving trip for their recipients.

“We reach out to those with disabilities and to our injured military. It’s such a mobile sport, even if you have a disability it’s a great sport for someone to enjoy,” Cortez said. “That’s why we offer scuba diving to people with limited mobility and to people with all types of disabilities. It’s just so rewarding to share this great mobile sport with somebody who might have some disabilities.”

Cortez says the best thing about the event, as well as getting involved with scuba diving in general, is being able to share the experience with others and being able to give back to military veterans.

“Most divers once they learn how to do dive, they just want to share it with others, and we have taken it a step further by giving back to our military and giving back to people with limited mobility. They can enjoy it locally right here in Huntsville, and from surrounding areas. It’s a wonderful place to come and enjoy local diving.”

So far, the event has 17 entries in the chili cook-off, and those that attend event have the opportunity to taste each and everyone of them, and vote for the one that they think is the best. Cortez says it’s been the biggest cook-off to date, and that each year the event has grown more and more.

“It’s continuing to grow and this is our biggest event so far with 17 chili entries. When we first got started we had about six or seven entries, but we always had enough food and enough fun for a good afternoon,” Cortez said. “It’s just a nice day and the Huntsville community has been very supportive.”

All chili entries must be cooked from scratch at home, and brought ready-to-eat the day of the cook-off. Contestants are also responsible for supplying their own utensils and products relating to their chili entry.

As part of the underwater scavenger hunt, participants can dive into the depths of the beautiful blue water and search for hidden “pirate treasure,” which will then be given to the divers at the end of the event.

“What we’ve done is we have taken wooden sticks that we weigh down and paint them with fluorescent colors,” Cortez said. “Each diver can go and find one stick and that will correspond to one prize, but they don’t know what that number corresponds to. Some of the prizes consist of dive gear, some of it’s donated items and Dive Pirate merchandise.”

There will also be a raffle, where participants can have the chance to win specially made pirate gifts, as well as purchase from the Dive Pirates online store.

For more information on rules for chili entries and the scavenger hunt, visit www.divepirates.org

or call (877) 393-3483.

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