Anyone with a major role in the dive industry is familiar with the importance of DEMA (Diving Equipment & Marketing Association) and the much anticipated upcoming dive trade show that is held annually. It takes place this year in November in Las Vegas, Nevada , marking its 26 year anniversary.
On Monday, July 7, 2014, this year's recipients of the 'Reaching Out' Award for 2014 were announced. The award presentation itself will take place at a dinner event on November 21, 2014, to celebrate the achievements of three individuals who have contributed greatly to the dive world as each has a strong passion for the sport of scuba diving.
Each year this celebration of scuba is built around a theme. This year that theme happens to be 'Hitsville, USA' taking us back to the many glorious hits of Motown. The Joint, a wildly entertaining venue at The Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, will be the setting for the fun to begin, as socializing in the world of scuba becomes the exciting adventure of the evening. An energetic crowd is sure to be on hand to give their support and appreciation to the winners.
It is time to meet the lucky DEMA 'Reaching Out' recipients. Patrick Hammer was so enthralled with diving at an early age that he became a dive instructor in the 70's and enjoyed it so much that he formed his own dive club drawing in over 150 members to enjoy the sport with him. From then on he was addicted to diving and went on to open his own dive store which turned into five stores by 1982. He found his niche in the industry with search and recovery. It so intrigued him that he went on to work for several fire departments which then led into developing safety procedures on proper search and body recovery techniques. It has been a long and exciting road for Patrick Hammer and he has written over 40 specialty dive programs. The accomplishment that he may be most proud of is his 'Our World Underwater' consumer show that has become a tradition year after year, and over time, it has been labeled as the largest consumer dive event in the Midwest. He encourages kids to explore the world of recreational diving and he is a generous contributor to the Tim Early Foundation which is a very active non-profit organization promoting educational dive programs for children and supporting various dive programs, such as research of Lake Michigan shipwrecks. Hammer's contributions don't stop there. He has also co-founded the Ralph Erickson Foundation whose goal has been to help diving enthusiasts in underprivileged areas start their scuba career through a grant program that helps provide access to equipment and training. Underprivileged youth and young adults, in multiple locations in the Caribbean, have reaped the benefits of Hammer's philanthropy. He has written 2 skin diving manuals, two operations and resort training manuals, other articles and has contributed to worldwide diver training programs including serving on the board of the PADI Retail Association Board, Coral Reef Alliance, Aqua Lung Advisory Board and DEMA Board of Directors. Patrick Hammer can look back with self-satisfaction and deep fulfillment for all that he has done and how far he has come with more adventures ahead of him.
The other recipients are a duo that have traveled extensively together all over the globe with a passion for sharing their underwater explorations through photographs, lectures and all things 'scuba diving.' Alese and Mort Pechter have fervently shared their years of findings with scientists and writers. They have made scuba diving the family sport that it is today. The couple are special teachers, creating a curiosity in children to draw them into the world of scuba diving and all that it has to offer. They work extra hard to promote ocean conservation and the Pechters’ children’s book, What’s In The Deep, has received newsworthy acclaim including being chosen as a Public Broadcasting System Reading Rainbow selection. It was the first ocean-oriented book directed towards young children using actual photographs of the underwater world. You can't miss their names as authors in popular publications of Underwater USA, Caribbean Travel & Life, Dive Training and Sport Diver. Their scientific explorations have taken them to serve as Fellow National members in the Explorers Club. The Pechters belong to the National Marine Education Association, Historical Divers Association and Oceanography Society. Alese was even chosen as a charter member for the highly prestigious Women Divers Hall of Fame. Some of the many honors over the course of their careers encompasses United Nations Environment Program and they were even recognized by the US Navy as Honorary Deep Seas Divers. They were also honored by the South Florida Police Search & Rescue Teams, were selected as the Photojournalists of the Year in 1996, and were awarded the 2003 NOGI for Distinguished Service.
These individuals come to us with highly expert qualifications and a desire to share scuba diving with the entire world. They are shining stars with a love of the ocean and we all celebrate their successes.